*NOTE: Some have personally written me and are of the opinion that I have displayed some arrogant sarcasm in the following critique of Francis Chan that is uncharitable to him. As strange as it may sound I actually love Francis Chan! I agree with so much of his preaching and message. He is excellent. But Chan also professes to be a Calvinist–which is why I am concerned for him as well as his readers. Chan’s preaching and message in the public square is astonishingly inconsistent and contradictory to his privately held Calvinist beliefs. This actually makes him somewhat “dangerous” because his likability can cause novice believers to be initiated into Calvinism without knowing the horrifically dark elements that accompany Calvinism. My motivation is concern and the genre is more or less satire so please keep that in mind.*
If Mark Driscoll, James White and John Piper were Budweiser beer than Francis Chan would be Bud-Light. In other words Francis Chan is Calvinism-Light.  Still Calvinism but diluted enough for the uninitiated and uninformed masses to savor its taste without being burdened with all those heavy Calvinist calories that sit around the gut of the heart and constrict it of life.
Another way of putting it would be to say if Driscoll, White and Piper were the drugs of heroin, cocaine and meth, Chan would be mariguana. Chan is the “gateway” drug for further Calvinist exploration and experimentation.
Chan is a warm-hearted, congenial, passionate speaker and teacher. So much of what he says I can only applaud with a hearty “amen.” But that is because so much of what he says is grossly inconsistent with Calvinism. Throughout his book Crazy Love and similar themed sermons Chan couches God’s love of sinners in universal terms. He pleads with his unsaved readers and listeners: “God loves you! God loves you with such a crazy love he died for you so that you don’t have to go to hell! You just have to choose to accept him.”
Really? Can he say that as a Calvinist? No he cannot. In Calvinism God has no redemptive love for masses upon masses of people whom Calvinism informs us he sovereignly predestined for hell. Moreover a pillar tenant of Calvinism is to repudiate any thought that suggests Jesus died for the sins of all persons and sincerely desires their salvation. God forbid anyone started believing that insidious heresy. It would leave Calvinists too naked and exposed to the patent truth of John 3:16-18. Moreover they would be without a leg to stand on in asserting God’s sovereign reprobation of multitudes of people and his unconditional decree to sequester them outside the orbit of his redemptive intention before they were born! Contra Francis Chan’s Bud-Light Calvinism, in Budweiser Calvinism God has decided your eternal destiny and no alleged acceptance, choice or response on your point affects that eternally sequestered decision.
So how does a Bud-Light Calvinist like Francis Chan justify telling people without qualification that God loves them and is genuinely “crazy” about saving them? At minimim it gives people false hope. At worse it’s a blatant lie! Now perhaps Chan is thinking there will be a “lucky” few predestined souls that have been foreordained to come across his book and discover that God’s “crazy love” is true for them (in virtue of being one of God’s unconditionally predestined elect). But Chan must admit that for everyone else outside the orbit of God’s love and redemptive intention, his comments are a sad and remorseful lie. They just aren’t true!
So Chan has a choice. He must either renounce and repudiate the mistaken impression he has given that any reader can pick up his book and subsequently read themselves into passages about God’s universal, redemptive love and intention.
Or Chan must repudiate his Calvinism.
He cannot have his cake and eat it too. He cannot hold to two incompatible beliefs for the sake of being a congenial Calvinist that doesn’t want to make waves. Calvinism-Light is still Calvinism and it just as easily leads to a “drunken,” theological stupor where one stumbles around, tripping over his own tangled doctrines trying to convince himself that his Calvinist belief in God’s determinative sovereignty and foreordination of all sins doesn’t therefore mean God is the author of sin.
Sadly for many people Chan’s Calvinism-Light will undoubtedly serve as a principle gateway to being initiated into heavy, calorie-induced Calvinism where doctrines about Jesus dying for the sins of only a chosen select and not all mankind, and God’s meticulous foreordination of all vile sin and wickedness accumulates to become the unsightly fat gut you may despise but can never part with…ever.
It’s time we start calling Calvinists out for their shameful behavior in not putting all their cards on the table.
It’s time we start calling Calvinists out for condemning Arminian theology in their scholarly papers while simultaneously keeping the darker, more “sinister” elements of Calvinism out of the public square by intentionally borrowing Arminian terminology and theological phraseology in order to shield their own horrific theology from view whenever they speak to general audiences of lay people– like Passion Conferences.
Francis Chan– I believe you to be a man of great credibility and passion. You display a heart that appears to have an unrestricted desire that “no man perish” and that is truly commendable. We beg of you to discard Calvinism in its entirety. In your heart of hearts you know you’re not one of them. You know you don’t have it within you to carry around the burden of thinking God decreed all of our unholy, relationship destroying sin and disobedience… or that it pleased our loving Heavenly Father to unilaterally predestine many of your readers and listeners to a damnation that cannot be changed.
Please put down your Calvinism-Light before you enter a state of irreversible, theological “drunkenness” like your mentor John Piper. No disrespect intended. I have no doubt that your friend Piper has a genuine heart to extol God’s faithfulness, love and glory–but he has become self-stricken with a severe case of cognitive dissonance. For he does not allow himself to fully pursue and appreciate the tragedy and horror of what he privately believes. We hope it does not become so with you. God bless you!