What to make of the Francis Chan/IHOP union

The Christian blogosphere is asking the question: What to make of popular Christian teacher and author Francis Chan speaking at IHOP (International House of Prayer)? Some are praising Chan's bravery, others are saddened and alarmed at the union. What did Francis Chan preach that day? Why the controversy over IHOP and its founder, Mike Bickle?

I will attempt to give you the full background on what transpired in late December at the  Young Adult Conference 2013 "One Thing." I've included a number of links as well as related background articles at the end, so that you can do your own legwork.

The Fuss

First, the controversy. There are good reasons for people's concerns with the IHOP organization and its New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teachings, which are contrary to God's Word. (See What About IHOP? - Part 1, What About IHOP? - Part 2, Signs and Wonders Training Camp for Kids, and Manifesting: Which Spirit?

We first learned of Chan's plans to join with IHOP early last summer, when IHOP website quietly posted an upcoming New Year's Eve event for One Thing featuring Chan as its main speaker. The post launched a firestorm of protests as many beseeched Chan not to give IHOP his stamp of approval.  Chan did not comment publicly about why he chose to speak at the event, nor did he explain his position on the controversy swirling over Bickle's alarming NAR teachings.

Did his appearance at the conference give Christ-followers the sense that we are to be united with those who promote false teachings?

Blogs like Spread The Flame say that Chan bravely spoke truth amidst a vague controversy:

 If Bickle was what some people make him out to be, it would have been potentially dangerous proposition to invite someone to like Francis Chan to address his ministry’s conference...the IHOP team not only invited Chan, but gave him free reign to speak what the Lord put on his heart.  This should speak volumes about the leadership of IHOP and their confidence in following Jesus and the truth of God’s Word.    Source

But most of those favoring Chan's appearance have failed to share both sides, instead glossing over Mike Bickle's false teachings and practices, or not even mentioning them at all. Over at Apprising Ministries, though, Ken Silva outlined the dangers of promoting a phony unity to our next generation.  "The truth is, Satan is after your youth and he’s the one uniting these counterfeit movements into a false social gospel," says Silva.  "No Francis Chan, this is definitely not what God wants from us."

What Did Chan Say?.

Silva shared a video clip taken by IHOP from Chan’s message during Session 8 on Monday, December 30, warning, "in my opinion IHOP is using Francis Chan’s comments at One Thing as propaganda in order to borrow Chan’s credibility within the wider evangelical community and promote their leader Mike Bickle."

What will the fallout be of these pairings in the name of unity?  No doubt we will continue to see the muddying of the lines between true and false, which leads us to the real issue at hand regarding Christian leadership: the faithful are left with the ever-burdensome task of trying to figure out whom to trust in this era of the great falling away Jesus spoke of.

Chan has shared some very solid teachings. We are living in a new era these days as a church: David Platt preaching at Saddleback. Christian leaders like Al Mohler speaking to Mormon students, or Ravi Zachcerias planning his second speech at the Mormon Tabernacle. Rick Warren popping in on Chuck Smith—and on and on.

Do we throw people under the bus for the venue? I would say that this would not be fair. It makes sense to judge not where a man teaches, but what he teaches. Having said that, the times we live in call for wisdom and discernment. How do we best discern these growing “affiliations” between teachers many consider "solid," and not-so-solid organizations? We look to Jesus and the Apostle Paul as our examples—Paul would preach the gospel anywhere to anyone, but never compromised on the Gospel. We must always be careful that we do not condemn those because of where they appear—but must also discern what they say or do not say around particular audiences.

 Additional Resources

Francis Chan Has Endorsed New Apostolic Teacher Mike Bickle (Apprising Ministries)

Mike Bickle and International House of Prayer (Critical Issues Commentary (CIC), article #107)

Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer, Part 1 (CIC, radio series)

Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer, Part 2 (CIC, radio series)

Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer, Part 3 (CIC, radio series)

Former Member Calls IHOP a Cult

Apostasy Watch (additional links)

(Thanks to Sola Sisters blog for compiling this list)