Image by Ryan Ashton
Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere. C. S. Lewis
Francis Chan decided to go after Christians who he claims are destroying the church.
Apparently, he claims his talk was based on 1 Corinthians 3:17
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
This sermon was covered by the Christian Post in Francis Chan warns against division in the Church.
“There is this terrifying verse in 1 Timothy where Paul talked about two men who rejected the faith. Paul said that he had handed them over to Satan, by which he meant that he’d put them outside of the church (1:20).
Basically, these men were actively opposing the works of God, so rather than pretending everything was fine, Paul removed them from the safety and blessings of the fellowship of believers. He was hoping that the misery of being separated from the church would lead them to repent.
Are you catching the weight of this? Paul equated removal from the church with being handed over to Satan! It is crazy to me that we live in a time when people are voluntarily doing this to themselves! No church has placed them outside of the fellowship; instead, they’ve handed themselves over to Satan!”
Let’s take a look at the verse from 1 Timothy 1:20:
Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
Are these verses referring to actual divisions in the church or something else entirely.
- These two men had rejected the faith.
- Members of a church are those who accept the faith along with a series of statements that outline that faith such as The Apostles Creed.
- If these two men did not accept the faith, then they were already unsaved.
- One would assume that these two men were not members of the church since they were not believers. Obviously, unbelievers are welcome to attend church so long as they are not being disruptive. It appears these men were not playing nice and were causing headaches, so they were asked to leave.
- Therefore, they never had the safety and blessings of the fellowship of believers.
Divisions in the church are another thing altogether
Assuming that a church is made up of believers, division would arise over points of disagreement of interpretation or on how to administer a church.
Divisions in a church can be caused by members or by leaders. Some examples:
- Calvinism versus Arminiaism
- Young earth creationism versus old earth creationism
- Salaries and benefits to be paid to church workers
- Traditional music versus contemporary music
I attended a Reformed (that was kept a secret as well) Baptist church in which there was a secret that was never to be told potential members. This church only taught young earth creationism. In fact, 6 weeks out of every year this was taught to grade K-12. In addition, similar classes for adults were held every year.The church also hosted a young earth creations club which met 1-2 x month at the church.
An adult class decided to have a debate on the issue in which equal time would be given to both sides to present their point of view. The young earth cavalry arrived and disrupted the class-hooting at those who held to an old earth perspective. I went to the senior pastor and asked what was going on. He claimed that the church only taught young earth. I asked why this was not stated in the resources because I would never have joined the church if I had known they did that. He said that they didn’t tell people because they didn’t want people not to come to the church!
So, in this instance, who was causing the division?
Does leaving a church with which you disagree rise to the level of *being turned over to Satan?”
There are a number of churches who would say so. 9 Marks churches will put you on a *care list* if you do not leave in a manner that they deem worthy. Todd Wilhelm left a 9 Marks church-UCCD because they sold CJ Mahaney books. He did not immediately join a 9 Marks *approved* church. That means he was retroactively disciplined. Discipline in their world means being turned over to Satan.
So, is that what Paul meant? Anytime someone disagrees with the leaders, he is to be turned over to Satan? Many churches practice this nonsense and cause unbelievable pain in the body of Christ in the misapplication of these verses. Francis Chan is a church leader. He has never been at the mercy of power hungry men who cannot wait to catch the next little guy who disagrees with them so they can turn over another one to Satan.
In the end, I’m not sure that these verses are saying what Chan and others want them to say. Either these men were not believers or they had been believers but had left the faith-something that Calvinists say cannot happen.