Friday, November 21, 2008

Chapter 7: The Gospel That Paul Preached

Caution Point 1: Joseph Prince (JP) is not being fair to those who disagree with him.

Through all the years of preaching and teaching in his ministry, JP received many accusations from those who disagree with him. JP felt victimised,

“…many people have written and said all kinds of horrible things about me. I have been called all kinds of names, but I have never retaliated in any way… I have never lifted a pen or spoken one negative word against any of my accusers. I don’t come against those who oppose me. In every situation, I just pray that it redounds to the greatest glory for Jesus and to the greatest good for the body of Christ.” (Bold added, p.81-82)

Strikingly, immediately on the next page JP penned,

“…notice that there was one group of people that was very unhappy with what Paul was preaching – the Pharisees or what I call the “religious mafia”… These religious keepers of the law are still around today. The law blinds them… When they see believers impacted by grace, they become “filled with envy” because they have worked so hard and depended on their own efforts to achieve their own sense of self-righteousness.” (p.83)

Here, JP put himself in the position of St. Paul, and put those who disagree with him in the position of the Pharisees who persecuted St. Paul.

With that he was implying that his dissenters, the “keepers of the law [who] are still around today”, as “religious mafia”.

JP deemed them to be blinded by the law. In simpler words, JP is saying that they are blind.

He further described them as envious, before he finally accuses them to be self-righteous.

Though I will not say that JP is being hypocritical here, but his self-proclaimed graciousness for “never lifted a pen or spoken one negative word against any of my accusers” on page 82 which is immediately overturned by his detrimental remarks against those who ‘persecuted’ him on the following page does say something about the false image he tried to present to his readers, not to his mention inconsistency and self-contradiction.

I might be wrong but when I read that two pages, I got a sense that on one page, JP was portraying himself to be a helpless, unrevengeful and forgiving victim who can do nothing except to look upon the Lord for vindication.

And then on the next page, JP unreservedly stabbed his dissenters with unkind accusations without really discussing the specific disagreements that he received.

But this is not the first time JP lashes out against those who disagree with him.

Take for eg. on page 22, JP wrote that the devil built fences around his teaching. Then on page 24-26, under the chapter's subtitle 'Fences Around the Abundance of Grace', JP implicates the dean of a "reputable Bible school" to build fences around his teaching on 'grace'. In other words, JP is implying that the dean is of the devil, if not the devil itself.

I think demonizing those who disagree with us is unnecessary. I do not agree with JP on many things but I do not implicate him to be of the devil. Thus, JP ought to be fair to the disagreeing parties and stop demonizing others over differences.


Caution Point 2: Following from Caution Point 1, JP suffers from the ‘Martyr Syndrome’ like those of the suicide-bombers.

The ‘Martyr Syndrome’ is a term coined by my friend Steven Sim. It reflects the paradox of the unnecessary reactionary beliefs adopted by both opposite parties that reckon themselves to be the victim as a way to justify their own position.

For eg. In a war, those who blow themselves up to kill their enemy always claim themselves to be the victims of oppression, hence the martyrs. On the other hand, their enemy who also blow themselves up to kill them might also see themselves as the victims, hence also the martyrs. So in such situation where both parties start claiming their own selves to be the victim, everyone is the victim, and no one really is the victim.

When faced with disagreements from others, JP sees himself as the victim, the martyr,

“…it is clear that when you preach the same good news that Paul preached, it doesn’t mean that everybody will be united and say, “Hallelujah!” There will be those who would kick you out of their cities and say all kinds of things about you to assassinate your character.” (p.85)

JP deems himself to be the victim of character assassination by his opposers. And in doing so, he is condemning his opposers as oppressive assassins. And hence his opposers could also view themselves as the victims of JP’s own act of assassinating their character. So in this situation, everyone is the victim, and no one really is the victim.

The better and more civilized (if not ‘Christian’) way is to have constructive discourse over specific differences instead of ‘ad hominem’ at each other. And when disagreement cannot be resolved, the attitude to ‘agree to disagree’ is usually more desirable and ultimately more respectable. This manner of engagement is definitely more preferable than character assassination inflicted on each other. A manner which JP could defer to.


Click here to go to the Contents page of this review series.

15 comments:

peter said...

Hi Joshua,

What is happening now in your on going review of JP's D2R?

You began earlier by picking out a verse or two that you accuse JP of wrong interpretation (Not that everyone else would agree with your rationale and interpretation!)

Now you pick on "JP not fair to those who disagree with him".

In doing so you completely took his staements out of context. He brought up the matter of his being "victimized" to show how "the Lord had vindictaed me" when certain chimes in the church were paying supernaturally when JP was preaching from Acts 13:38-39.

Then JP went on to answer the question "But pastor Prince, if what you are preaching is really from the Lord, it will not cause division." But you twisted it to make it sound as if he was intentionally "stabbed his dissenters".

I am surprised that when you cannot do a proper review, you now shoot at the author's character - "the false image he tried to present to his readers, not to his mention inconsistency and self-contradiction."

I see no problem in JP comparing the persecution that he faces with the same persecution that Paul faced and using the same terms against his accusers/persecuters that Paul used.

In any case he did not specifically come against those who accused him falsely at that period of time he was writing about. That doesn't mean he cannot explain why such teaching of grace that he fervently expounds will cause division/opposition as in the time of Paul.

When you intentionally take passages out of context and explicitly wrongly draw out negative connotations on the integrity and character of a person like JP, you are commiting the same sin of ‘ad hominem’ that you so nobly proclaim that others should not commit.

Shalom.

MFB said...

Hey bro,

Thanks for the great & in-depth review on JP's Destined to Reign book.

BUT.

I'm not sure who are your target audiences.

If you're thinking of JP's fans or people in the same hyper-grace-You-must-bless-me-God camp, I'm afraid you might just be wasting your time. Why do I say that? Because I was once his fan!

When a person is spiritually blinded, no matter what others say about his belief, he just CAN'T see it. It's not that he DOESN'T WANT to see it. He simply CAN'T see it. If fact, he will think you're simply jealous and it might also cause him to be more 'entrenched' in his choice of belief (both about what and who he chooses to believe).

I've been there and done that!

But by the grace of God (no pun intended), the veil that has been blinding me got lifted up!

I once was blind. And now I see!

And because now I see, I can relate to your review. But that's ONLY because I am blinded no more. And because I'm not blind anymore, I will not even bother to read his stuff, much less agreeing with what he says.

So if your target audience is those who are not babes and not spiritually blinded, you're also wasting your time because they don't buy his teaching in the very first place!

See what I mean?

So whether believer or non-believer, when he/she is blinded, the only thing we can do is pray and ask God to lift up the veil that's covering his/her eyes.

And by the way, when Christians argue with Christians, guess who's laughing?

By focusing on JP's book, you may think you're doing the right thing. But who knows, you may cause him to be more popular than he already is right now. And more people (those who are spiritually blinded) may even buy his book out of curiosity.

Our Lord Jesus said that during the last days MANY will be deceived; even the elect. Since this prophecy is from our Lord Himself, I'm sure it'll come to pass. So why bother about trying to reduce the 'MANY'? It's just going to be futile.

Let's focus on encouraging and reminding others (and even ourselves) to be like the wise virgins who have enough oil to keep the lamp burning when He returns.

Your blog has some great stuff. So why not just focus on edifying Christ and His Body?

God bless,
MJ

peter said...

Hi Joshua,

I must also refer to your reference to p24 of JP's D2R where you falsely alleged that JP implied "that the dean is of the devil, if not the devil himself."

This is the most blatant lie I ever read in any Christian blog.

JP was using the example to show how even the mention of teaching grace in a bible school makes people go on "high alert".

You have to stop your lies to have any credibilty.

Shalom

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Peter,

I’m fully aware of the risk that this particular review on chapter 7 might bring. If the reader is not careful, I might end up being seen as someone who is attacking JP’s character or personality, or giving him an ‘ad hominem’ treatment. I have actually given it some thoughts before posting. And I decided to post it because I don’t see my arguments here qualify as an ‘ad hominem’.

I know the context. I didn’t twist what he wrote. I don’t even agree with the question raised by his objector on JP’s teaching causing division. I think the objection is invalid.

Did I say that JP’s drawing analogy between himself and Paul problematic? It’s not a problem to me. Not sure why are you proposing in such as a way as if I have problem with JP’s analogy.

Prior to the period JP was writing the book, he already implicated a dean of a Bible school as carrying out the works of the devil. This is found on page 22, which I have already stated clearly in my post. And I do see calling someone doing the works of the devil is “against”.

I'm not here accusing, but stated very clearly that JP "implicates" and "implying". Do you know what these words mean?

I didn’t not take passages out of context as I’ve shown above. I didn’t apply ‘ad hominem’ on JP. The mis-usage of ‘ad hominem’ is properly understood as an external argument derived from the opposer’s personhood, which is not derived from the subject matter, used to discredit the opposer’s personhood rather than the opposer’s argument. What I have done in the post is highlighting JP’s argument and shows its inconsistency by deriving from the subject itself. I’m not discrediting JP’s personhood, but his argument.

‘Ad hominem’ argument is something like, “JP is a conman, so don’t listen to him”. This is very different from the argument I used in my post. I didn’t use his personhood (‘conman’) to discredit him. I drew from what he has argued and showed from it that he is being inconsistent in his treatment of those who disagree with him; and hence it is ‘unfair’.

Hope that clarifies the post and what ‘ad hominem’ really means.

Thank you for your comments.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi MFB,

My review is for my own self learning of what JP is teaching. Whether it reaches out to whoever is not in my control.

Personally I learn a lot from the book. The emphasis on grace and about confession. JP can be stimulating at times, though i didn't mentioned that in my current review. I do plan to post a specific post on what i have learned from JP.

Blessings.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the reviews. I disagree with MJB in stating that you are wasting your time. I read with interest your reviews and as a result have been sharpening my discernment in distinguishing what is right from wrong.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Patrick,

Thank you for the word of encouragement. I hope we all can learn together in this series of reviews.

Blessings.

MFB said...

Hey Patrick,

I think you miss my point.

What I'm trying to say is that depending on which camp we're on, we will ALMOST always support that camp's activities. Whether it's books, writing, speeches, etc.

Please note that many a time, when a person defends his belief, most often than not, he's defending his CHOICE of his belief, and not so much his belief; if you know what I mean.

So if Sze Zeng is trying to 'convert' JP fans to leave the 'dark' side, unless these fans' eyes are opened, he would be wasting his time.

The fact that you said, "I read with interest your reviews and as a result have been sharpening my discernment in distinguishing what is right from wrong." is because you're NOT on JP's camp. If you're on his camp, I doubt you'll ever say that.

Do you think this Peter guy who has been trying to rebut what Sze Zeng said will ever say, "I read with interest your reviews and as a result have been sharpening my discernment in distinguishing what is right from wrong."?

As of now, I think his right is your wrong and his wrong is your right. There'll be no end to it.

I think as Christians, we should just focus on Jesus and remember His Great Commandment and Great Commission instead of arguing with another Christians about their doctrines. Let's leave it to Jesus to decide who's right and who's wrong.

The bible says in 2 Tim 2:14, "not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers." Let's keep this in mind.

Hope you understand where I'm coming from.

God bless.

Tay said...

Hi MFB

I acknowledge your good intentions, but will have to disagree with you.

Firstly, though I agree that most people in the JP camp will simply not listen, it does not mean that everyone will not. How did you change your mind, if not hearing from some sound doctrine that must have come from somewhere? Surely our Sovereign God can and will make use of each and every little effort to proclaim the truth and mould believers' minds. We are too small to see how, but who knows, Joshua's blog is only part of what God will use to bring more of His deluded people to the truth? My puny mind is too small to grasp how God uses small efforts and insignificant people to carry out His grand eternal purpose to conform people to the image of Christ!

Secondly, "leaving to Jesus what is right and wrong" does sound a little too passive to me. What happened to "speaking the truth in love" (Eph 4:15)? Or later on in 2 Tim 4 which talks exactly about preaching the truth when men are no longer "willing to put up with sound doctrine"! 2 Tim 2:14 is talking about striving with meaningless words, not to avoid speaking truth. May I suggest that it is precisely an indifference to doctrinal accuracy that leads people to JP?

Blessings,
Derrick.

MFB said...

Hey Derrick,

Thanks for your comment.

My question always remains:

"How sure are we to know that we are ABSOLUTELY right with our interpretation of the Bible?"

For every verse you can use to counter one person, that person can use another verse to counter you back. Guaranteed!

The Bible says we are all different parts of the Body of Christ. How does it glorify the Body of Christ when, instead of accepting each other differences and coming together to fight the enemy, the different body parts are busy trying to argue with each other who's interpretation of the Bible is more accurate?

It's no different from soldiers of the same country fighting among themselves about who's way of handling the weapon is better instead of using the weapon and coming together to fight against their enemy.

This is exactly what the devil wants us to do - busy arguing with each other about who's interpretation of the Bible is more accurate instead of coming together to fight him. He has been using this tactic since Adam!

Remember, "A kingdom divided can never stand on its own."

I'm stopping my comments in this blog. Because it'll never come to an end. I'd rather spend time turning non-believers to Christ than wasting my time trying to argue with other parts of the Body of Christ.

It only makes the devil happy when Christians are busy fighting Christians over your so-called doctrinal accuracy instead of using the little time they have left in the world to try to spread the Gospel to people who have yet to hear them.

Blessing and peace in Jesus' Name,
MJ

Tay said...

Hi MFB

The devil is equally happy when Christians give up striving for "unity of the faith" for the sake of superficial harmony.

It is also ironic that you are going to spread the same gospel whose accuracy you could care less about.

Peace,
Derrick.

Albert Kang said...

JP's teaching is affecting churches in Malaysia. I was asked to speak on this and your blog is a great help. Keep up the good work, Brother.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Albert, I'm glad that it is helpful. Thank you for the comments and your kind words. :)

Rod said...

Brother Sze Zeng,

I have been reading through your review, as I have seen about 1/2 a dozen or so programs on TV here in Canada, and I too felt like another commenter, that there was something I could not quite pin down yet that was bothering me. Of course the prosperity aspect, and then giving messages from Lakewood connected with Joel Ostenn was definitely a red flag raiser, but your review is proving very helpful. I went to the net to find exactly this type of thing from others who know more about him. I read both pro and con people when I want to discern truth. You keep doing what you are doing and know that it is of value to many people. I am astute and well-versed and a Bible teacher of many years.

God Bless,

Rod.

Rod said...

Brother Sze Zeng,

I have been reading through your review, as I have seen about 1/2 a dozen or so programs on TV here in Canada, and I too felt like another commenter, that there was something I could not quite pin down yet that was bothering me. Of course the prosperity aspect, and then giving messages from Lakewood connected with Joel Ostenn was definitely a red flag raiser, but your review is proving very helpful. I went to the net to find exactly this type of thing from others who know more about him. I read both pro and con people when I want to discern truth. You keep doing what you are doing and know that it is of value to many people. I am astute and well-versed and a Bible teacher of many years.

God Bless,

Rod.