Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Preface of 'Destined to Reign'

Caution Point 1: Joseph Prince’s criterion to validate divine revelation is dubious and hence dangerous.

His criterion can be shared with Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism who claimed to be authorized by John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. James, and St. John themselves), David Brandt Berg (founder of The Family/Children of God who claimed to had a vision of Jesus having sex with Mary and Martha), and Ahn Sahng Hong (founder of the Church of God who claimed himself as the second Christ).

Joseph Prince (JP) claims that he received a divine revelation in 1997. God said to him,

Son, you are not preaching grace…Every time you preach grace, you preach it with a mixture of law. You attempt to balance grace with the law like many other preachers, and the moment you balance grace, you neutralize it. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins. You cannot put grace and law together…Son, a lot of preachers are not preaching grace the way Apostle Paul preached grace…If you don’t preach grace radically, people’s lives will never be radically blessed and radically transformed.” (p.vii)

JP deem the growing numbers and the transformed lives in his congregation as God’s validation to His direct order stated above,

“…soon after my encounter with the Lord…we began to experience explosive growth in the church year after year, and by the grace of our Lord, more than 15,000 attended our services on the first Sunday of 2007. The Lord has validated His word not only in our growing congregation, but also in the radical transformation of thousands of precious lives exposed to the radical preaching of grace.” (p.viii)

If growing numbers and transformed lives are divine validation on certain experiences, then the revelations experienced by Joseph Smith, David B. Brandt, and Ahn Sahng Hong are as valid as JP’s own. In fact, to use the same criterion, the divine encounters of the former three are much more validated given their greater number of congregants and transformed lives as compared to JP’s.

Hence if the same criterion applies, there is no difference between Joseph Prince’s divine experiences and that of Joseph Smith. Both Josephs’ ministries have growing numbers and transformed lives as God’s validations over His words to them. If that were the case, the members of JP’s congregation or JP himself would have to acknowledge Joseph Smith’s ministry as valid as theirs.

Nonetheless I am not discounting religious experience or epiphany. I am questioning the validity of certain criterion used by certain people to verify such unusual encounters.

10 comments:

Israel Lee said...

I cringe in reading that our Lord Jesus Christ would actually address his servant Paul as 'Apostle Paul'. If those are the exact words that Joseph Prince heard, I really question the 'jesus' that he spoke to.

Steven Sim said...

wow..Joseph Smith also very hansum lei...

He'll probably the the JP of his time.


Steven Sim

marfanoid said...

True, an increase in church attendances doesn't prove God had instructed JP to emphasize grace.

But neither would it contradict such a claim, and might even be considered supportive. Would God tell a pastor to de-emphaise grace?

Afterall, Jesus, in his time, could also have been considered 'popular', drawing huge crowds with the gracious words that proceeded from his lips. The crowds weren't studied theologians, but ordinary men and women who could recognise grace when they saw it. Pradoxically, it was the 'experts' of the time who took issue with Jesus' teachings.

Sze Zeng said...

HI marfanoid,

The point that I try to make is that the numbers of followers is irrelevant to whether is a revelation true or not.

I think u concede to this too if you think that numbers of attendance neither contradict nor support. Whether it's supportive is already being addressed in the post that it is not.

Whether to emphasize on grace or not is up to God to decide. I'm not questioning God, but those visionary claims made by modern people.

By evoking Jesus as the 'persecuted martyr' and drawing a parallel with Joseph Prince is pointing to the Martyr Syndrome, which is also irrelevant to find out whether one is true or not.

See the Cautios Point 2 in my review of Chapter seven of the book. Thank you for comments.

luo said...

Sze Zeng
May I suggest an improvement to your blog. Your first blogged about this subject in end of 2008. The comments that followed had the time of posting indicated but no date. Not that it is terribly important but it does give us a chronology as you see in other blogs.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi luo,

Thank you for the suggestion. Otherwise I wouldn't have notice this.

Anyway, do you mind drop me an email to tell me more about yourself, what are you doing now, your walk with God, etc?

joshuawoo@gmail.com

Anthea said...

I was reading the book of Daniel yesterday. I wondered those who claimed that they received a divine revelation can pass the test of The Furnace of Blazing Fire test like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?

Anthea said...

It is easy to say that you hear God and obey God when things are going well. When the real test comes, how many will stay?

The truth will be revealed by and by.  Honestly, I think if he is not genuine, the truth will show up sometime. In the meantime, just continue to read the bible, and learn from God directly.

Peggy Wight said...

I believe God can use anyone to clarify His Grace, just as he did with the early church. This is not a new revelation. The hardest thing for people to grasp is His Grace - so many are trying to earn it so they never get it. Hopefully JP's gift of teaching will help people rest in the Grace that God wants to give all of us. I also do not think you can feel Grace without the Holy Spirit. Peter was a mess until I believe God can use anyone to clarify His Grace, just as he did with the early church. This is not a new revelation. The hardest thing for people to grasp is His Grace - so many are trying to earn it so they never get it. Hopefully JP's gift of teaching will help people rest in the Grace that God wants to give all of us. I also do not think you can feel Grace without the Holy Spirit. Peter who lived with Jesus daily was a mess until he received the The Holy Spirit at Pentacost. He was full of doubt and and pretty much useless until that event.

Yik Sheng Lee said...

Peggy, I think it's not so much about the difficulty for people to understand grace, rather, it's the 'grace' taught by Joseph Prince which is difficult to understand when we try to match it to what Jesus, Paul, James and John have said on the matter.

One clearest example is this concept of God has forgiven our 'past, present, and future sins' frequently mentioned in Joseph's sermons on YouTube. I don't think you will find many evidence of Jesus and Paul reasoning that your future sins are forgiven by default.

On contrary, I hear Jesus warning the delivered person, 'Go and sin no more lest a worse thing happen to you.' If our 'future' sins are forgiven by default, it's nonsensical for the Lord to warn the person or us.