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.
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