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Francis Chan Speaks at OneThing Conference

In September, I wrote a post expressing concern that Francis Chan would be speaking at the IHOP “OneThing” conference at the end of December.

Chan spoke on Monday, and I was pleased that his message–which included praise for the “great things” going on at IHOP–also included some loving corrections to New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teachings. Watch his message here.

“There are some theological differences…”

Chan started his message by admitting that, when he  received the invitation to speak at the conference, he did not know much about IHOP and had never met IHOP founder, Mike Bickle. He also said he was advised by people not to “hang out” with Bickle and that some of those people had described Bickle as “creepy.” But, after getting to know Bickle, Chan told his audience, “I love that guy,” and “I love His heart” and “I just want to publicly say I love Mike Bickle.”

That being said, Chan acknowledged theological differences between himself and Bickle, saying, “I’m sure there are some theological differences in there somewhere. But there’s so much that we agree upon.” He said that, despite the differences, unity among believers is important to God and that “division” and “dissension” in the church are “deeds of the flesh.” He went on list core doctrines of the Christian faith that he believed he and his IHOP audience hold in common.

I thought it was wise of Chan to mention that there are some theological differences between himself and the IHOP community. By doing this, he did not appear to give a blanket endorsement to all IHOP teachings–which was my major concern.

I also thought it was good Chan emphasized unity. He is correct in pointing out that the unity of believers is very important to Christ and that such unity will serve as a positive witness of Christ in the world (John 17:20-23). And he also showed that the basis of that unity is a shared commitment to essential Christian doctrines.

My one concern is that, with all his talk about unity and shared beliefs, Chan’s audience might dismiss the theological differences he alluded to as unimportant or inconsequential. I don’t think that was necessarily Chan’s intention. But I hope that his listeners will dig deeper to investigate those theological differences.

“People are going to lie to you.”

Chan told his audience he felt led by the Lord teach from a specific passage of Scripture, 2 Timothy 4:1-5. In this passage, the apostle Paul warns about people, in the last days, not wanting to hear sound doctrine. Instead, these people will seek out false teachers whose teachings will cater to their evil desires.

Chan also shared examples from Scripture where God’s people listened to false prophets, such as 1 Kings 13 and 1 Kings 22:6-28. And he told his audience that Scripture warns believers to “tests the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and test prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

He went on to urge his audience to study Scripture so they will be able to detect erroneous teachings.

I was pleased that Chan issued a strong warning about false teachers and false prophets. This is an important warning for the IHOP crowd to heed because IHOP heavily promotes present-day prophets and the present-day gift of prophecy. And it seems to me that, many times, the people who promote prophets and prophecy the most do the least to warn their followers about the dangers of false prophets and false prophecies.

I was also pleased at how heavily Chan stressed the importance of reading, and studying, the whole Bible so believers know it well. But I do wish he had also stressed the need for them to study Scripture using the correct principles of biblical interpretation, based on the science of “biblical hermeneutics.” My observation is that many people in the NAR movement think they know Scripture well, but they haven’t learned how to properly interpret it. So they are in danger of being misled by false teachers who twist Scripture.

“Be Lovers of Jesus, not just lovers of revival.”

Chan shared a time in his life when he realized he was guilty of worshiping a desire for revival rather than worshiping Jesus. He urged his audience not to make the same mistake. Chan also stated that God doesn’t always promise revival and pointed to passages of Scripture that show God’s messengers were often rejected and revival didn’t always occur.

Chan’s warning about not worshiping revival seems fitting since many IHOP teachings and practices are aimed at bringing about a great end-time revival before Christ’s return.

Chan also urged those who are part of the “prayer movement” to not start prayer movements with the intention of having thousands of people worshiping non-stop, around-the-clock in their city. Instead of getting excited about raising up prayer movements, they should be excited about worshiping Jesus.

I think Chan may not understand the dominionist teachings that lie behind Bickle’s promotion of prayer rooms in cities throughout the world. If he did,  then he might have had more corrections to say about the “prayer movement.” Then, again, many people are unaware of these teachings.

In short, Bickle teaches that, through the IHOP prayer movement, God is preparing prayer warriors for their end-time role of releasing judgment against Christ’s enemies by saying “prophetic” prayers. (See Bickle’s “Overview of the Book of Revelation“). But this notion, of believers “releasing” God’s judgments, cannot be found in the Book of Revelation. Indeed, Bickle has developed his own unique interpretation of the Book of Revelation as described in an article titled “Forerunner Eschatology.”

But people should be cautious about a novel interpretation of any book of the Bible.

 ”God didn’t give us the Holy Spirit just to do tricks.”

Chan said God didn’t give believers the Holy Spirit just so they could “do tricks.” He said the gifts of the Spirit are for the common good, and that the Holy Spirit enables people to be His witnesses.

I appreciate how Chan reminded his listeners that the gifts of the Spirit are not meant for showmanship, but rather for building up the body of Christ. I also appreciate his focus on the Holy Spirit’s empowerment being for the purpose of  witnessing to Christ. These are good reminders because people who focus heavily on the gifts of the Spirit, such as members of the IHOP community, can develop a misplaced focus on miracles.

“Strengthen what remains and is about to die.”

Chan concluded his talk by cautioning members of the IHOP community that some of them may be in danger of being like the Church in Sardis described in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3:1-6). That is to say, they may have a reputation for being spiritually alive, but actually are spiritually dead. He said people who are part of a community like IHOP, which is known for its passion and prayer, are especially vulnerable to trying maintain their spiritual reputation even when, secretly, they know they have lost some of their love for Jesus.

Chan said he had been guilty of that very thing at times in his ministry–being a well-known Christian teacher, but not loving God as much as he did in the past.

My thought is that being like the Church in Sardis–just going through the motions spiritually–is a danger many Christians face. So all Christians, not just those affiliated with IHOP or the NAR movement, need to be on guard against this temptation.

If you watched the OneThing conference, then I’d love to hear your (graciously expressed) thoughts.

– By Holly Pivec

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21 Responses to “Francis Chan Speaks at OneThing Conference”

  1. Rich Says:

    Wanting to focus on getting along because of what we believe in common or agree on is not Biblical,. What is biblical is that a little leaven works throughout the batch of dough. Sometimes it is best to let God stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you are not told in scripture to go to Babylon and try to convert the population that didn’t want to come out from among them.

  2. Riles Says:

    To me, there is just way too much “professional courtesy” in the church world today.  A lot of the big names won’t call anybody out for fear of harming the cash cow.  I also see way too many people that look starry eyed at anything, or anybody,  that is called Christian.  Hence people like Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Osteen achieve status.

  3. Ryan Says:

    Being a reformed baptist, I remain strongly cautious of the entire IHOP movement. Even so, I decided to check out the murmurings by joining some brothers and sisters in attending the One Thing conference this year. I strongly appreciated Chan’s sermon calling out the errors of the ministry while maintaining the bond of unity and peace. He was honest and transparent about the problem while correcting them in gentleness and love. Christ has called us to unity, not division, and the orthodoxy, albeit strongly Wesleyan/Pentecostal, found at IHOP should include the (although fringe) group as part of the church. We should strive to restore them theologically before it’s too late. Thanks for your article, enjoyed the read. Blessings.

  4. Dave Says:

    Since Bickle and colleagues believe a different gospel (it’s more than just being on the fringe, they are teaching heresy), I do not believe the issue of unity should be raised. There is so much error and heresy promoted by this group, we should speak boldly, in love, but boldly leaving no doubt what the issues are. This group is leading people to eternity without God. Call it for what it is.

  5. Stan Says:

    I felt Chan did not follow through on one of his main claims – that he didn’t care if telling the truth alienated him from his hearers. It’s not something you speak, it’s something you do. For example, about the so-called “theological differences:” He practically trivialized them when he said they “were in there somewhere” like they would take a pair of tweezers to pull up. Elephants in rooms are not “in there somewhere.” Instead, to be true to that claim, he needed to denounce Bickle’s unity with the notorious KC prophets and the rampant mysticism and feminization of Jesus that goes on at IHOP under the direct instruction of the one whose “heart he loves so much.”  Then he’d be alienated and suffer for the gospel. I vainly thought for a while that was what he was leading up to.

    However, listening to Chan’s unconscious expressions throughout the talk – giveaways to someone’s root beliefs – leads me to think he is a bit at home with those errors. Ideas like “intimacy” with Jesus and “in love” with Jesus are unbiblical expressions. They change Jesus’ true nature in subtle yet powerful ways. They bring a “different Jesus” Paul warned were seductions by the serpent and the product of false apostles.  Jesus of America has lost all his “tooth. ” He is a paper tiger, a cuddly teddy bear whom IHOP teaches is smitten over his “bride” like a lovesick teenager. 

    But, it seems to me that Chan has become a product of our American church culture. Look how it’s gone since the ’60s/’70s revival (one I am a product of, and thankfully the Lord gave me a way of escape out of much of the error that overwhelmed it). For example, go in to any church building and check out the paintings of Jesus in the foyer and halls. He is either holding up a falling man, knocking on a door, praying angelically with flowing hair or sweetly holding a lamb.  I don’t doubt that he is gentle and lowly heart who won’t break a bruised reed, but that’s ALL you ever see of him portrayed.

    The members who look at them every Sunday do not realize they’re being manipulated. The pictures are spiritual propaganda designed to de-fang the Lion of Judah who has eyes of flame. If a church wants to presents him pictorially (something that we are not authorized to do anyway), let them also put up paintings of this cuddly Jesus putting weakness, sickness and death on warring believers, or casting the Jezebels onto  beds of pain and killing her children with death or vomiting a church out of his mouth.  Maybe then something of the “Terror of the Lord” will creep back into our grace-heavy theology. 

    However, it seems Chan is sincerely desirous to be pleasing to the Lord. I give him the benefit of the doubt since he said it so passionately. I pray that the Lord will lead him out of thorns and brambles of modern churchianity – starting with IHOP.

    Stan

  6. AR Says:

    When word came that Francis and Matt would be at Onething, I was worried. With Third Day being at Voice of the Apostles with Randy Clark, it seemed like the acceptance of these false teachings was becoming widespresd. As I watched Chan’s message though, and knowing all that Mike and IHOP/Bethel believe, I kept waiting for them to shut down the online broadcast or pull Francis off the stage! When Francis and Mike came out together and Mike prayed, I was watching Francis’ face, and that’s when I knew Chan wasn’t there to jump on the bandwagon. Then once Mike left the stage, Francis said he needed to pray some more. So then from what he prayed I really knew he was going to at least somewhat speak out. I thought he approached it through love and patience, maybe a little more than he should have, but overall I think he pretty much did the best anybody could do without having the crowd totally shut out everything he had to say. What he said came from a place of sincere concern, which is the same place my heart is at in the matter. He preached the gospel, which is hardly heard at a place like IHOP, and sort of let them decide if they believed the truth. From there (since most seemed to clap in agreeance) he gave a clear and direct message and even used Mike as an example of someone older than you that you respect being a false prophet. I think that was definitely intentional. I’m not sure anyone in the IHOP crowd caught that, but I’m praying they did. And I’m praying that those who truly do know Christ will read the Word with decernment and teaching from the Holy Spirit and with the out of context commentary and twisted explanations from Bickle. 
    My prayers were answered, and I am thankful that Francis spoke the warnings to IHOP that The Lord has given me concerning the movement and those of the like over the years.

  7. AR Says:

    **Without the out of context commentary…

  8. AR Says:

    I did feel though that it was very characteristic of IHOP to take the first 2 minutes of Chan’s message and post it separate from his message as “Francis Chan Quote”. Of course they want outsiders and insiders alike who need reassurance to hear that Francis loves Mike Bickle (which I think as believers we all should love Mike Bickle and want to see the truth of God over his life instead of heavy lies and deception) so that IHOP will then be viewed as legitimate without watching Chan’s entire message. IHOP only wants people to pay attention to the fact that Chan sounds supportive in that clip, but when heard as a whole, his message has an entirely different goal.

  9. James Says:

    As someone who has had reservations about IHOP and Bethel, I have come full circle in this. My son attended the one thing conference this year and I watched on line. Last year my son also attended the one thing internship at IHOP for 5 months. The focus of his time was to study scripture (alone, without the guidance of a mike Bickle book as most of you believe) and in prayer. There were classes as well, but this was more than half his time!
    I have NEVER been in a church that has it all together, but my family has been saved by a real passion to know God. I am watching my youngest son (never been to IHOP) heal the sick and lead kids at his high school to Christ. I watch both my kids run out the door to spend time in worship and prayer. I watch them pray with and for their friends, and even call me out when they don’t see my wife and I spending more time with Him than with the TV! I hear Gods voice more than ever before and have been awakened through spending time in prayer and worship and seeking His face. Man is doing church wrong most of the time! I can not stand playing church anymore! I know that I now know God. If you are not hearing Him you are not living out your faith! Jesus said “I do ONLY what I see the Father doing” that is how we should live… fully yielded to a Holy God who loves us and has clothed us in His righteousness filled with the Holy Spirit.
    Letting any person guide you through scripture is not a good idea…. Denominations in general all have a spin  on scripture and make it too easy to trust someone else instead of looking for ourselves. We are called to be lead by the Spirit as we read scripture.
    As to the miracles and prophecies coming out of some places….. read your bible! We should see it more often than we do now! Not that it is the focus, but it should not be absent, it should be normal, not the exception.
    I urge you to get to know Gods voice, and then do ONLY What He tells you to do…. Don’t add it to your list… make it the ONLY thing you ever do… Till he returns. Then you will know what it is to have an unshakable faith, then you will see what He can do with a fully yielded person. We should hold each other accountable to this alone as Christians.

  10. Rich Kelley Says:

    The curtain was ripped from top to bottom, and in three days a new temple was built, stop running to the four walls all over the country thinking that is where we need to be.  What is happening inside the four walls is the same that was happening inside the walls when Christ walked the earth, there is nothing new under the sun.  We don’t do church, we are suppose to be the church, the Ecclesia, the called out ones, not an activity, or a building.  Until we realize that we are the called out ones, the church, the temple, we shall continue to be deceived by the hirelings and four walls that are waiting with open arms to teach mans ways.  We should realize that we need to come out from among them, leave our baggage in the system, spend some time in the desert so the Holy Spirit can teach us.  The term leading someone to Christ is found no where in scripture.  Scripture shows that Christ calls you, you follow and become a disciple, some turn away, and in the end only a few remain. We are not being disciple today, we are being raised by the anti-Christ system of the clergy and denominational flavor of the month.  It is not what “We” believe then list 15 things, it is what He believes and then spend the rest of our life learning and living it in a small group of believers called the ecclesia, called out ones, holding each other accountable daily. Can we truly pick on IHOP and the human that runs it when we get in our cars and go to the building and listen to the denominational hireling/system we support.  Come out from among them and be separate rings true today.

  11. Stan Says:

    Hello James. When you say, “get to know God’s voice and then do only what he tells you to do,” can you give an example of this from your experience?

  12. Mary Says:

    I am grieved concerning IHOP and the people for whom come in contact with this movement. I left, no ran and never looked back with any regrets, from a church system who embraced IHOP, its false prophets, who boasts of its 24 hour prayer weekends where people “sign up” to pray for an hour, and regard many unscriptural manifestations as the works of the holy spirit. Although I have left this Scripturally unsound belief system, the people, especially the women, will not let go of me and still choose to “impress” me with their hyper-spirituality.

    Recently, one woman who is often voted in as a deaoness during their congregational business meeting, and whose children attend IHOP yearly, one being a follower of Benny Hinn and the late John Wimber’s teachings, shared with me of a “dream” she had of me, and its “spiritual” connotations. Then another woman, who is very young, often voted in as a “church board member” wrote me a letter saying, “I have been having dreams of you often. I sense you are sick and pray that God will heal you.” She is a follower of a relatively local preacher who claims to have taken trips to the third heaven and has angel visitations.

    For the record, I was not sick at the time of receiving the letter, nor am I sick now. So the dream was interpreted falsely, it was a lie. It is my belief and understanding that many of these dreams these IHOP followers have, are considered “truth” and are interpreted according to their flesh, twisting our Holy Sciptures to validate their belief system. These woman, I believe, are also using their dreams, and at times they have “visions”, to control and manipulate people in gaining followers after themselves and their false dominionist movement.

    The speech these people use of is of a militant nature, “God’s army”, doing “battle” with the enemy, “soldiers for Christ”, “warfare in the heavenlies”, “kicking some devil’s butt,” “taking back America for God,” etc. These people actually believe that God is showing them “new” revelations and that they are “hearing the audible voice of God.”

    The Bible is clear concerning movements such as these when Jesus Himself stated, “an evil and adulterous genertaion seeketh after a sign and a wonder.”

  13. Rich Kelley Says:

    Thank you for sharing your discernment Mary.

  14. Blake Says:

    I have been listening to Ihop teachings, and on the worldwide prayer room streaming feed for many years now. This church’s goal is to focus on the love of Christ as a foundation, as well as biblically sound teachings as many other church’s are. Miracles, healings, signs and wonders should fuel our passion and love for what Jesus is doing in the earth rather than hinder it. This makes me wonder if people that critisize Ihop have hardeness, jealousy, or a religious spirit within them. I believe these people are preventing themselves from stepping in the greater glory. And, as far as eschatology goes, we are all trying to figure that out….nobody has that stuff correct. There are multiple different interpretations to many of the concepts within the book of revelation.

  15. Mary Says:

    We are in the “greater glory” when we are “in the Word of God” and following our LORD Jesus Christ, and not any man nor any movements.

    Please do not make the false assumptions that many born again believers, by God, the Holy Spirit, are “jealous,” nor “hard”, or have a “religious spirit” within them for I have come out of a church system heavily influenced by the IHOP so called apostles and prophets, whose prophecies are not 100% accurate. Praise God, our Holy Father, that we are living under the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, for the Old Covenant commands the stoning of false prophets.

    Before I left this particular church system, the pastor gave a sermon on “the religious spirit” and “the jezebel spirit,” arrogantly walking back and forth across the stage. His whole presentation cast criticism and judgement upon those of us who did not ascribe to the IHOP teachings; he was also a product of the Toronto blessing (?) movement. I left the building that day and never returned as the sermon was NOT from God, the Holy Spirit, and I knew it because he quoted Scriptures out of context as most of these preachers and teachers do. Two weeks later, this man was asked to leave his ministry as he was caught soliciting the love of a married woman in that church system. There were other warning signs concerning showing “special” attention to other women in the congregation, but they were either ignored or silenced by the deacon/deaconess system, and  these women’s reputations and credability were deeply scarred as a result.

    And Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” There is no jealousy, hardness, nor religious spirit living inside of my born again soul concerning the IHOP movement. There is, however, this one comment that I find very interesting coming out of the mouths of the local IHOP followers and that is this: “When people see how we are, they will want what we have.” I have seen, I have heard, and I have been the recipient of some very harsh/hard/and spiritually abusive treatment eminating from followers of IHOP, and I can say with complete peace and love for our LORD Jesus Christ, that “there is absolutely nothing that IHOP’ers have that I will ever want in my life.

    I have Jesus Christ, alone, and that my friend, is all that I will ever need as my mediator. Amen.

  16. an d Says:

    Sadly this one world global governance magic prayer formula charismania Church of The Tares end time false teaching chaos! Has been loosed into the church body and has replaced solid Biblical teaching and quiet prayer as the new mobetta way to bend God’s ear. Of course it usually costs you $26.66 to find out a big fib.

    And therein lies the problem. Sound Doctrine and simple heart felt prayer requires time and sound teachers/preachers and some study. BUT THE NEW MOBETTA WAY IS ABOUT”THE $HOW”!!!…yah the say anything claim anything, make up new ways you gotta pray anything!

    So book sales and personality side shows can keep the whole ever growing group at a fever pitch! I mean how is anyone going to make any money or attract mega masses of sheeple….throwing CA$H at the stadium door and book tables.

    I mean; just saying the TRUTH found in Holy Scripture and end with a quiet pray? How is that gonna sell anything? Or attract a large crowd….sigh p.s. the main thing is to quit pointing out false teaching and teachers. It makes them furious. Then they remove all their YouTube videos with caught on tape telling these tall tales.

    I better pipe down now or get smiitted on the internet for ruining sales.

  17. Ozy Says:

    I’m saddened by many of the comments I have read in the article and reply section.  It is as if there is no room to understand that there will always be theological differences among believers.  The intention of Francis Chan in his opening remarks is actually the bar that Jesus expects all his disciples to live by: if we are his disciples, we prove this by our love for one another.  

    If IHOP believes in the core basics of our Christian faith – then they are indeed our brothers. What saddened me is the haughty mindset that the author and many of the reviewers (who are no doubt int he same thinking camp as the author) have towards our IHOP brothers.  Clearly, they have theological differences in secondary matters (The person and work of Christ is the primary truth); but what I see is that this article and those that agree with it expect IHOP believers to change.  What if God wants YOU to change?  Realistically, most people will not change from their different theological camps – but we can still respect each other and encourage each other to walk in love with our focus being Jesus.

  18. Rich Kelley Says:

    Another sad person, go figure.  There will not be differences in the Kingdom of God, it will be His way or the highway so to speak.  I doubt very seriously that anyone knows the intentions of Francis Chan, so why defend Him with some made up straw man statement.  Suggesting that differences be tolerated is another gospel, as I recall differences is what sent Christ to the Cross.  Suggesting that Christ would respect you even though you had theological differences is one shy of nuts.  Because someone doesn’t agree with either a person or their beliefs doesn’t mean they are not walking in love. (shame on the implication) You can say and claim about anything you want which makes you out to be a leafed up bush that’s about it. You don’t get to confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord then do with your flesh what ever you believe.  Christ has done just as He said He would, the lamp stand has been removed because there was no repentance.  Many of us have tested those that say they are apostles and prophets are not, and have found them to be liars.  Today there are many saying they are Christian and they are not, nothing but blasphemy comes from their lips, as they say one thing and then run to the high places to worship something else. 

     

  19. Blake Says:

    Read your bibles, and walk with the Holy Spirit. The bible is living and breathing. Everything that occured in the bible can and does happen today. International house of prayer is a good ministry!

  20. Ken Says:

    A little bit of research on IHOP quickly reveals that the movement prioritizes personal revelation over Scripture (God’s revelation of Himself in Christ).

    Galatians 1:8 – But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

    1 Cor. 11:19 – But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s … for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine.

  21. Stephan Kielas Says:

    Cool, thanks for sharing your thoughts Holly. I do have a question for you. You stated that it’s important for one to learn the correct principles of biblical interpretation, which you believe lie in the science of “biblical hermeneutics.” I was just wondering where, biblically speaking, we are told the correct way to understand the Bible is solely found in applying “the science of biblical hermeneutics”? I know Paul wanted us to study to show ourselves approved, but I do not remember him emphasizing to us that we should apply “the science of biblical hermeneutics” so your comments seemed a little extra biblical to me.

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