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Celebrating the Overwhelming, Relentless Love of God

A conversation with Francis Chan—the extended version of an interview that appeared in Deseret News Magazine.

Most Latter-day Saint missionaries return home with stories about difficult experiences with Evangelicals. I know I did. And little wonder: like Yankee and Red Sox fans, we’re pulling for different teams…right?

That’s what I assumed for a very long time. Until I met Pastor Gary Grogan.  And campus Pastor Wayne Wager (whose wisdom we shared in this magazine last year, “A Sermon for America”). In their presence, sitting in their sermons, praying in their homes, I felt something I knew well from my youth:  the inexpressibly sweet Spirit of God.

Although I had never met Pastor Francis Chan till recently, that’s what my wife and I have long felt from him as well—someone whose words from a distance have made a profound difference in our own home, family and faith. I’m excited to introduce him to you too.

Francis Chan had many of the classic risk factors to become a “troubled teen.”  His mother died at childbirth, his stepmother died when he was 8 in an automobile accident, and his father died when he was 12. But he didn’t give up on life or his faith either. Forty-two years later, Chan would be one of America’s most beloved evangelical pastors—with his 2013 book “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” selling nearly two million copies around the world— with more opportunities to speak than he has time for today.    

But popularity and comfort were never Chan’s goals. He donated his substantial book royalties to organizations fighting sex trafficking—and felt convicted that he needed to sacrifice more. Although he had not been taking a salary as a pastor for years, he and his wife Lisa decided to downsize their home. Eventually, they felt prompted in 2010 to leave their 6,000-member Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, which he had led since its beginning in 1994—and move up to San Francisco to begin a new ministry. In 2019, he felt called again, this time to Hong Kong, where his family stayed until visas were denied.  

Francis Chan’s words have uplifted evangelical audiences for years—and reverberated across the internet. With his ability to translate core Christian insights for a broad audience, he’s been able to encourage people beyond the traditional confines of faith boundaries. My wife and I came across his writing and sermons early in our marriage and have felt edified by his love of God and his overflowing enthusiasm for the message of Jesus.  

Pastor Chan spoke to me from his home in Fremont, California. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

JH: More people seem to be walking away from faith these days, saying essentially, ‘who needs this to be happy’? Compared with immediate sexual and substance use excitement in the world around them, they wonder if the gospel message of Jesus is worth it today. What would you say to someone feeling that way?

FC: I would agree with that person if there was no such thing as a judgment day. But scripture says it’s appointed for man to die once, and then comes the judgment. There’s some pretty terrifying passages about eternal punishment.  I get it—if the goal is happiness on this earth, yeah, go do your thing. Eat, drink, and be merry. As the Apostle Paul says, “I’ve lived a foolish life if there’s no resurrection for the dead. But because there is a resurrection, this is the way I live.”

For too long, we’ve tried to make following Jesus, like “oh, it’s fun … it’s great,” but that’s not really how Paul described it, saying “if there’s no resurrection, I’m above all most to be pitied.” When you read his resume of everything he suffered, you go, “wow, that would be foolish if there was no eternity.” So, absolutely—if there was no eternity, yeah, go do your thing.  But we live in a time where, even in the church, people are afraid to speak about the wrath of God, which is all through the scriptures—beginning to end. It’s that terrifying reality, but because we don’t want to speak about it and think it turns people off, people are starting to believe there is no judgment anymore.  

When someone says, “Hey, I tried the gospel—but here’s some temptation,” this is the same trap Judas fell into—you’re going to find yourself holding a bag of coins, a woman, or whatever. And later you will realize, “I just traded knowing the son of God for her or this … or for him.” It’s not a good trade-off.

We can’t have our mind just jumping from one thing to the next, and expect to have a good, strong prayer life

JH: You don’t shy away from unpopular teachings like this, often raising concerns with attempts to make Christianity more palatable and popular and less offensive. For instance, you have said, “I’ve been hearing more and more people say ‘if God is a loving God, he’s not going to punish us. Man, have you read this book?’”

FC: People are not reading the Bible anymore. I mean, for 2,000 years, you’ve had people devoted to this. And now we live in a time when people have stopped reading it. And they try to listen to catchy sermons here or there, rather than just reading it for themselves.  

JH: You recently said “it’s so rare to find a teenager who can praywho can be alone for 10 minutes and try to focus on God and not have their mind wander. Your minds are going so fast, because of cell phones … triggering us all to constant stimulationand you close your eyes to pray and you have so many thoughts going through your mind.” What have you done in your own home to counteract this influence and help your own children be ready to connect with God?

FC: Yeah, it’s not easy—especially when the pressure is out there. And you feel like you’re that dad with these unfair restrictions that none of the other kids have to deal with. But I tell my kids, “I’m losing you— just slow down, your mind is going so fast.” In 1st Peter, it says, “The end of all things is at hand—so be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers.” We have to exercise self-control. We can’t have our mind just jumping from one thing to the next, and expect to have a good, strong prayer life where you can actually focus on Him and actually sense Him being in the room ministering to you and where He answers you because you’re focused on Him and there’s this love.

In Psalm 42:7 it says “deep calls out to deep”—it’s like the depths of my soul calling out to almighty God from this deep place. And yet texting and TikTok is so shallow. And the church is starting to follow suit where shallow calls out the shallow because it’s just easier and you can get it over with faster.

This last summer I just told my kids, “we need to get away—let’s go away for 2 weeks, no cell phones, no computers. I just want to be with you, I want you to be with God.  I want us to just enjoy each other. Just trust me—you’ll be fine. You’ll live through it. I’ll live through it.”

Every parent has got to do their own thing. I have a friend who’s pretty wealthy, and he told his high school kids—if you guys will stick to a flip phone, I’ll buy you any car in the world that you want. The moment you turn 16, I give you a flip phone and we’ll go to any car lot and buy you a car. The moment you go to a smartphone, I take the car back and you’re on your own. All this because he just hated seeing his kids addicted to this thing. So, there are creative ways and different things we can do. But it’s a real fight. If Satan can get us doing a bunch of stuff … and not really knowing Jesus, and being known by Him, he wins.

JH: One of the things you often say in your sermons is “I don’t know how you survivepulling off following God in our culture and worldwithout spending time alone with God.”  But that “alone time with God” is harder and harder to findeven for those who want it. I’m curious whether you’ve found this time alone with God harder to preserve in your own life with all these digital intrusions and accelerating pace of life? If so, what extra steps have you taken to protect that time?

FC: Everyone has their own weaknesses. For me, I like to achieve things and I like to get things done. And we live in a time where you can get a lot of things done—big things—in 5 minutes. So, the temptation is—“let me do this, let me do this, let me do this”—just making split-second decisions without really praying them through. And believing things without really studying them diligently. So, it’s a fight for me. I have to wake up and say “no, I’m not going to see who called. I’m not going to see what’s waiting for me.” Some mornings, I just go out for a walk and pray—putting in my air-buds in to block out all the noise—and just talking to Him, thanking Him, and worshiping Him.  

It’s self-control—like the Bible says. You have to be self-controlled in order to be able to pray. Self-control is “I want to check my messages—I want to see how many things I need to get done today, but I refuse to. Because this is really the only thing I have to do.”

JH: You know quite a bit about this busyness in your own life, of course. In addition to a busy teaching schedule, you’ve got 7 children of your ownsome married, a few still at home. We’ve been talking in our faith community about prioritizing worship opportunities at homerather than only expecting that to happen in a church building. What has worked well in your own home for you and your sweetheart to get the message of Jesus into the hearts of your children?

FC: We’ve never been ones to have a set time to talk through scripture. That’s a wonderful thing, and I wish I’d been more diligent in that. But for us, it’s really in the context of everyday life. And the kids have seen the decisions we make, and we explain them to our kids— “This is why Dad gave this money away, this is why we’re moving to this area. This is why this. …” And it’s really not always what I want to do, but I know this is what God has called me to do. And then they see the result of it, and they marvel as they hear, “I’m telling you, just watch—God listens. He’s been listening to me ever since I’ve been a kid. Ever since I’ve been your age. And I want you to see this.”

I remember telling my girls, “Look at how this one situation worked out. This is why I want you to marry someone who knows God, because you’re going to miss out on all of this if you just marry someone who says they’re a Christian.” I remember my grown daughter had brought a boyfriend home—and I had some friends in town. They told me afterward, “We asked your daughter how serious she was with this guy, and she gave the weirdest response—saying, ‘yeah I’m just hanging out with him—and I just want to see if God listens to him.’”  And they’re like, “What is that about?” And I go, “I know exactly what she’s saying. She knows that God listens to Dad. And she knows that I know Him and He knows me.  And so, if she’s getting serious with a guy, she wants to see that same evidence—that you’re not just a religious person doing these things and looking good and sounding good. But she wants to see that he’s known by God. And that when he prays, crazy things happen—because that’s all she’s known about her dad.

So, our family worship is more in the context of our life, versus me making them memorize passages or go through studies together. And you know, then we just have spontaneous worship times in the home. My daughters will just grab the guitar or jump on the piano, and just from their heart cry out to God. And pretty soon we’re all around the piano or guitar—just so happy as a family being in His presence.  

JH: You’ve spoken about efforts to help people facing compulsive-addictive patterns with pornography and other challengesand how often people run back to the same mud whenever something small in their accountability or recovery plan goes wrong. Referencing your own life experience with temptation, you say “Every time I started gravitating towards sin, I just felt dirty, and couldn’t live with myself, because God did something to me. Whenever I do, it grosses me out, it feels dark, there’s no peace.” For a man or woman who believes in God, but is thinking, “I’m just not sure I’m ever going to beat this,” what more could you say by way of encouragement?

FC: That’s a big concern of mine, because sometimes in the church we’re just about behavior modification. My concern is the person themselves. The Bible says that all of us were slaves to sin. All of us were following the enemy and just doing whatever our flesh wanted to do. But then scriptures describe that when the Spirit entered into us, suddenly we became slaves to righteousness. That’s what I was trying to describe—after that happened, I just hungered for the right things. And unlike a pig who runs back to the mud, I would touch the mud and while I may still be tempted by it, I couldn’t live in the mud anymore. I had to get out of that.

When our oldest child was 12, she was this compulsive liar. And there came this point where my wife and I were like, “did we fail?” I remember feeling, “no, I will not accept that.” Everything I read in the scriptures is that I can’t change her heart, so I said, “We could lock her in her room until she’s 18 and keep her from doing anything wrong. We can set her schedule in one way, but then once she turns 18, she’s gone. She’ll just do whatever she wants to do anyways. Our only hope is for the Holy Spirit Himself to enter into her. And when that happens, then it’s almost like our job is, well, kind of done. Because she’ll have those convictions.”

If Satan can get us doing a bunch of stuff … and not really knowing Jesus, and being known by Him, he wins.

And it was really amazing, because it was probably just a couple of months later, after me explaining to my daughter, “Honey I’m concerned because you do these things—and I know you love me and you love Mom. But I can’t tell if you really love God. And you’re doing things to please us. I get concerned because I don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in your life—that it comes from a deep place within.” And so, we went on for a couple of months, and then she eventually comes to me one day and says, “Dad you were right. I didn’t know God.  The Holy Spirit was not in me.” And I’m like, “well, how can you be so sure?” “Because he’s in me now. I talk to Him like I’m talking to you. I know Him now, so I know that I did not know Him before.”

As a parent, you’re kind of like, “well, we’ll see.” (I didn’t say that, but in my head, I was just trying to be thankful). But sure enough, her entire life does a 180. So, it really was not about me —and not about these rules I enforced on her. Truly it was God changing her, which is the same thing that happened in my life. Some of my younger ones have experienced a relationship with the Holy Spirit at an early age. And it’s amazing, even my 6-year-old just—his dreams that he has, and the way God speaks to him—is fascinating. He has a faith that I want. It’s just so pure—and he’s having these encounters with God. And you can’t control those things, you can’t learn that in a classroom.

JH: That’s a really different focus than managing behavior and watching triggers focusing instead on getting the Holy Spirit in your life.  

FC: Yeah.  

JH: In a day when it’s clearly becoming harder and harder to speak plain truths people don’t want to hear, can you share your thoughts on the erosion of freedom to share increasingly “unpopular” messages like the gospel not only around the world, like in Hong Kong, but also here in western democracies?

FC: Yeah, I mean this was prophesied.  You think about what Paul tells Timothy when he says the time is coming when people will “not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. And they will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” So, if I want to divorce my wife, I can find a teacher who will tell me it’s okay. If I want to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend, you know, then I’ll find someone who tells me it’s okay. If you don’t want to believe in a judgment day, then find someone that teaches there’s no judgment. Rather than reading the scriptures, people in this day will find others who will tell them what they want to hear.

But he then adds “as for you, always be sober-minded” in other words “don’t let what’s popular influence you.” And “endure suffering. Do the work of the evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” So, at the end of the day you have to decide, am I saying this because I think people like it and I’m going to get more likes and more followers, or am I saying this because God called me to this and I’m doing the work of an evangelist and fulfilling my ministry. I remember pretty early on speaking at a chapel at Pepperdine University. During the Q&A one gal said, “Everything you shared about there being one way to heaven, and you were pretty adamant about it.” Then she goes, “You know that most of us don’t believe that, and we’re actually pretty offended that you would say that. So, why would you say that?”

I said, “that’s a great question—but I want to explain to you that I don’t say things because I think you’ll like it. I say things that I don’t even like. But when I read the scriptures, I go, “this is what God says, and so I’m bound by that.” So, I say something because to the best of my understanding it’s true and I’m called to say it. I’m not after popularity. I’m after God saying, “well done” when this is all over.

JH: In reference to some of the more controversial debates happening in recent decades, you once said, “When we begin an argument with, ‘well, I wouldn’t believe in a God who would… .’ who would what? Do something you wouldn’t do?  Or think in a way that’s different from the way that you think?” You go on to caution about jumping so quickly into these debates, proposing more attention to this as the core question: “If you disagree with God on an issuewould you submit to Him? At the core of your being, do you believe in a Creator? And if He is your Creator, would you surrender to whatever He would ask you to do?” That’s pretty hard to do. What more would you add to that for someone wrestling to surrender on some of these difficult cultural questions?

FC: I think I would ask someone, “Why do you believe what you believe? How do you know it’s true?” Most people right now, they believe whatever they think … or feel. If they have an opinion about something, then in their mind, that’s true. And I ask people, “Why do you bet on yourself? Is it a matter of intellect, like your IQ is so much higher than everyone else, so your opinion is right and theirs is wrong? Or is it your intimacy with God and the Holy Spirit because you’re so humble He pours his grace out on you and so He’s going to reveal truth to you? We believe all truth comes from God, and so why did He give it to you?”

We have to ask these questions about why we know something. Is my conviction about something because I have this humble, contrite spirit? Am I closer to the Holy Spirit than someone else? There was a time in my life when I just thought I could go into my office, and study and come up with the truth. But I realized a lot of times I would just find people from my theological background to confirm my inclination. And this process has changed for me over the years. In the New Testament, there’s so much about “us”—our father in heaven. And there’s something about the unity of the body of Christ. In Psalm 133, it says that “when the brothers are dwelling together in unity, there He commands His blessing, life forevermore.” 

I look to the godliest people I know, who are the elders at our church. And I know, because I’ve seen the sacrifice, I’ve seen their hearts, I’ve been with them through life. And if they collectively agree with me on something, I’m willing to bet a little more on that. And then, I look through church history now—and go, “gosh, there are people who lived through a time when they weren’t so scattered in their thoughts, their devotion was outrageous, they gave their lives for Him. And they saw Him, they walked with Him. And here are the things they all say. And so, even if my little group of guys that I trust disagrees with that early church, I go “gosh, I don’t know if I can bet on you guys.” But if I am in agreement with these elders that I trust—and these elders are in agreement with that early church and church tradition—I go, “I’ll bet on that.” Now, you? I wouldn’t bet on you. And I don’t bet on me either.

So, don’t believe everything you think! And be okay with people having different opinions. Someone recently said, “One of the shifts in our culture is people are no longer allowed to have opinions—but instead, they are their opinions.  And so, if you reject their opinion, you are rejecting them, rather than saying ‘no, I can reject what you think about that and still be committed to you and love you as a person.’ So, it’s just a strange time that we live in.

JH: In “Crazy Love,” you write, “Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe, even if there is no God.” You go on to encourage people to live in a way that if God didn’t come through, they’d be in trouble. That kind of sacrifice feels too hard for many today. Too scary. And too much. Like the rich young ruler, we stay away from the possibility, sorrowing sensing it’s too much for us. Compared to someone dedicating their life as a faith leader, I’m sure many have wondered, “do you really think God expects all of us to make sacrifices like that?”

FC: My decisions, I don’t think, have anything to do with me being a pastor, because I know many pastors who have no convictions the way I do. It’s what I read in scripture. Now, am I afraid each time I take a step of faith like that? Yeah, there’s fear. But I’m more afraid to not obey. I’m more afraid to be the rich young ruler that walks away sad. When Jesus walks away from the rich young ruler, He says “It’s so hard for the rich.” But then a few verses later, he runs into a very rich man, Zacchaeus, and it’s completely different. He got a glimpse of Jesus, understood his worth, and was ready to give everything up, surrender. And Jesus says to him, “Okay, today salvation is come into this house. You get it.  You understand what I’m worth.” I want to be Zacchaeus who really sees the worth of Christ and just starts giving everything away. That’s not like a downer passage. The downer passage is the rich young ruler—he walks away sad, Jesus is sad. Zacchaeus is beside himself and can’t believe Jesus would come into his home. And Jesus is thrilled too.

I’m just so freaked out excited about what I have in Christ.”

So, it’s not even so much the suffering and ‘suck it up’ and ‘just give it away’ and ‘have faith.’ It’s really just this clearer picture of God, and going “are you kidding me? I can know you?! I was made in your image. I was created in your image.  And you say that you’ll abide in me, and I’ll abide in you?”  And the thought of ever not having that is a lot more terrifying than I might be 70 and live in a tent.  You know, that doesn’t scare me so much.

JH: When you were forced to leave Hong Kong after a wild 2020, you said that your family felt “at perfect peace at a time when most people would be freaked out.” That’s what a lot of people are feeling todayincluding lots of people who want to follow Jesus, who feel enormous anxiety about the times we are living in. What more would you say to believers who are increasingly scared of so much they’re seeing happen in the world around them?

FC: I’ve had the privilege and advantage of walking with Jesus for the last 40 years. As a kid who was just lost, no parents, no relationships really on the earth—feeling like no one cared about me. And then praying to God as I read about Him in the scriptures and He just answered and answered and answered. So, we’re talking about 40 years of history with outrageous answers to prayer. So, whatever happens in a day I just go, “no, He really does work all things together for the good.” I’ve just seen this pattern for so long.

It’s like my own children, if Dad does something they know there’s a reason. They’ve never seen him act like, totally idiotic or irrational. And even if they don’t understand, they’ve learned to trust, and say ‘gosh dad, thanks—thanks for not letting me do this, thanks for this decision. I see why you did all these things.’ And that’s the way I feel about the Lord. So, COVID doesn’t scare me. If something happened to my kids, of course, it would be painful. But I was just thanking the Lord this morning, like “God, I feel like I can get through anything with you because you’ve always been so good to me—and there’s always been a reason for everything you do.” But, again, that comes from a lifetime of answered prayer. And so, maybe there was some faith in the beginning—but over time, it just seemed like it would take more faith not to trust Him because of the way He’s interacted with me my whole life.

JH: It does seem to many like it’s harder to follow Jesus than everwith so much heaviness, depression, and despair around us.  But you said in a message during the middle of the pandemic, “I’ve never appreciated and loved being a follower of Christ more right nowjust to know I can be secure in Him, just to know that He really did conquer the grave so I don’t need to be afraid of death. That doesn’t mean I go out and do stupid things, but I’m just not fearful.” I was struck by the joy you expressed during this challenging time. Even people who don’t believe this, notice the joy you have founda kind of contentment that most people don’t have these days. What would it take for more believers to find this joyeven with all this falling down around us?  

FC: Peter says, “We rejoice with joy inexpressible.” Like, we just feel like everything in us just wants to scream. That’s how I was feeling this morning alone with the Lord. Like, ahh! This is too much! Why me?  Why do I get this? And It’s not “oh, because my family’s nice,” … it’s because I know God.  He listens to me. He’s been with me all of these years. And so, I do have this joy that at times … is inexpressible.  I remember one time in the airplane just reading scriptures and I began to tear up just so happy. And I remember the flight attendant was like “are you okay?” And I feel bad because I said, “oh no, I’m fine.” And there was part of me that didn’t want me to say “I’ve been reading the Bible, and I’m just so freaked out excited about what I have in Christ.”

The Bible says that’s a fruit of the Spirit—and I want people to understand that this was not me … at all. You know, there are some people that have a natural disposition—it seems like they are happier people.  But if you ask any of my family who knew me as a kid, I was just the most unhappy person. Every time I would see my aunt, I remember she would say, “why you never happy?” I was like, “I don’t know?” And my dad would just comment on this too—I just always had this scowl. I was raised in a very typical Asian home that was very performance-centered, and shame-driven. I had no real relationship with my dad—only when he scolded me. So, all I knew of a father was someone that was always disappointed in me, where I never measured up.

And so I just grew up this rejected, unhappy person. And it was a wrestle for me when I would read the passages about the grace of God—and the love of God.  Just because I had never experienced that from a father. And, so it took time—and I probably still have some baggage from all of that. But over the years, the Spirit really has changed me, when I began to understand the grace of God—“While we were enemies, Christ died for us.” I began to believe and accept and enjoy. If we’re talking about Almighty God, He doesn’t just enter you and change nothing … and you don’t have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness … that’s not the God that I read about in scripture.

JH: There is more attention among those who look to Jesus about His cominga possibility that is mocked and belittled by many others. Yet you have taught about the reality of this future day. What do you anticipate followers of Christ having to go through before that wonderful day comes?

FC: I think 2nd Timothy 3 really sums all of that up. And Jesus explained that when the Son of Man returns, it’s going to be like the days of Noah, where everyone is just doing their thing.  And then the flood comes, and they just never believed it. And unfortunately, we’re going to have to be like Noah’s that are ridiculed by everyone.  And, you know, in 2nd Timothy 3, he explains in verse one, “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of Godliness but denying His power. Avoid such people.”

So, it’s not just saying that this is going to happen in the world.  But he says this is actually going to happen in the church too, where people will be loving themselves, loving money, loving pleasure. And so, you just realize—that’s what we’re up against. And now we have churches [that] are trying to appeal to people through earthly pleasure. Meanwhile, again, he’s warning Timothy, don’t give into that. Flee from all of that and live the way God has called you to.

I try really hard to just love whoever is in front of me.

JH: Theological differences between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals are real and importantand should not be ignored. But sometimes hard feelings over these differences can get in the way of positive fellowship and friendship that might mutually lift us in a culture increasingly hostile to faith of all kinds. You’ve done work reaching out across other important differences between other Evangelicals and also with Catholicsand you’ve taken some heat for that. Can you share more about why you feel this kind of interfaith dialogue work is important?  

FC: We live in a time where someone calls himself “Catholic”—it could mean anything. Or if they say they are “Jewish”—I have no idea, based on that individual. We don’t live in a time where people just go with the group, especially in the U.S. where everyone prides themselves on free thinking.  So, I’ve just found that I know what I’ve experienced with Christ.  And I know how good it has been to know Him and to be known by Him. And there is nothing more thrilling than those times when I know He hears my prayers and He answers me in the most ridiculous way. And so, I want that for everyone. I want that security for everyone. So, if I have an opportunity to speak to someone who may be labeled something, that doesn’t bother me. I look at the individual, and I go “God help me love this person, because I want them to know you and experience a bit of what you and I enjoy, Lord.”  So, if you call yourself Pentecostal, Four Square, Charismatic, Baptist, whatever it doesn’t matter to me. I try really hard to just love whoever is in front of me. 

Those differences are real. And people can, unfortunately, come across as angry, rather than concerned. At the same time, I have to be truthful about my concerns. When I read this book, it’s all about knowing Him. The fascination of Moses knowing God—being a friend to God, on and on and on. The New Testament is so much about the grace of God.  Whenever I talk with a Roman Catholic, Jehovah’s, Latter-day Saints, my concern is this working towards, this earning. I totally believe if the Spirit is in us we cannot help but work—He moves us to work. But if it gets off of grace and on to work, even with Baptists or whomever, my heart is just “ahh, I want you to rest in Him and know Him.”  

JH: You recently created a video on unityand trying “silence” as a way to draw our hearts together. While recognizing the real theological differences that will continue (including in how we see Jesus), do you think there is more opportunity for unity and collaboration between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals as we look ahead to more troubled times in the world around us?

FC: I’ve been to Utah several times and actually had some really close friends in college that played on a volleyball team together that were Latter-day Saints. There are certainly things we can partner on.  Because, you know—the sanctity of life, God’s creation of male and female— there are certainly things we agree upon.  Living in a country where there’s freedom.  I just think it’s one of those things where people have to be okay with discussion, and for there to be love in that discussion.  You know, for me there’s—some of those differences are so deep.

And to have discussions about that, I can do that, and be honest with concerns—for everyone to come to the table and go like, ‘I’ll ditch everything for truth. And I will follow truth wherever it leads me.’ I’ve already been rejected by my old camp just for embracing—not even embracing, just for having conversations with people who are more charismatic or more catholic. So, the whole cancel culture thing, been there done that. And I’m too old to just believe something just because it’s the way I was taught. And as long as we’re really seeking truth and being honest with each other in those discussions—so we don’t pretend ‘oh, everything’s fine.’ Yeah, we can agree on the tragedy in Afghanistan and watching people fly off of a plane, and how can we get food to these people, and people in the civil war in Ethiopia, and starving to death, and how we do something there. But we have to be realistic and honest … that doesn’t mean big unity is possible.  But we can unite on certain things.

Go here to listen to the full interview and check out a compilation of his teachings that have impacted my own family the most, including some especially “for someone ‘not feeling it’ at church,” and the perfect message “for someone struggling to leave behind a habit that is hurting them.” Please also visit here to support the global Crazy Love ministries Pastor Chan leads.

About the author

Jacob Z. Hess

Jacob Hess is a contributing editor at Deseret News and publishes longer-form pieces at He co-authored "You're Not as Crazy as I Thought, But You're Still Wrong" and “The Power of Stillness: Mindful Living for Latter-day Saints.” He has a Ph.D. in clinical-community psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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