Friday, November 07, 2008

On Chapter 3: Controversies Surrounding The Gospel of Grace

Caution Point 1: Joseph Prince’s (JP) criterion to test truth is unreliable and arbitrary.

In this chapter JP introduces a second criterion to test any truth-claim about God. The first one is on the Preface and had received comment. On this second criterion, JP wrote,

The devil’s strategy is to surround the truths of God with controversies. To prevent God’s people from benefiting from the fullness of God’s promises, he erects controversies as fences around these truths. You can always tell how powerful a truth is by the number of controversies the devil surrounds it with!” (Bolds are original, p.20)

Two pages later, JP re-asserted again,

The more controversies you find around a truth of God, the more powerful that truth must be.” (p.22)

Then he clarified that,

Not all controversies are based on the truth of God’s Word. We have to test everything against what the Bible says.” (p.22)

To summarize this criterion, JP thinks that any powerful truth about God has to have 2 qualities:
  1. It has to be able to attract controversies. The more controversial it is, the more powerful the truth is.

  2. It has to be based on the Bible.
If Christians were to adopt this criterion, we will have to recognize that Docetism, Gnosticism, Arianism, and many other false teachings as “powerful”. Reason is because these teachings attract controversies, and their proponents assert them to be based on and tested against the Bible.

In fact JP’s own teachings share the same two characteristics with these heresies. First JP’s teaching attracts controversies. Second JP asserts that his teaching is based on and tested against the Bible.

Am I saying that JP is sharing the same platform with these heretics? I am not. JP might just be unaware that his criterion to test God’s truth is unreliable. (But to think about it, even if JP shares the same platform with the heretics, it is the platform that he himself has erected.)

Further, this criterion appears to be arbitrary. JP asserts that everything has to be tested against the Bible, but he did not seem to test this criterion against the Scripture. Which part of the Scriptures says that the ‘more controversies you find around a truth of God, the more powerful that truth must be’? The power of God’s truth can be recognized by the amount of controversies surrounding it? JP did not substantiate this criterion with the requirement he imposes on himself.

In conclusion, this criterion fails on two levels. On one level, whether a teaching is powerful or not does not depend on the amount of controversies it caused. On another level, JP claims that all teachings about God has to be based on and tested against the Bible, yet this criterion itself has not been demonstrated to be based on and tested against the Bible. Hence the rule that JP has laid for others backfires and betrays the arbitrariness of his own criterion.

(Remains of the ancient Corinth)

Caution Point 2: JP misunderstands St. Paul’s analogy in 2 Corinthians 8.9, and thus ended up with a different motivation and conclusion from that of the latter. JP refers to 2 Cor 8.9 to confirm his idea that, “God was restoring the truth of prosperity to the church…” (Bold mine, p.21)

I think JP misreads 2 Cor 8. In the context, the passage is situated in the middle of St. Paul’s appeal for the Corinthian Christians to act out their love to the poorer Christians through sharing of their wealth.

He started by referring to the Macedonians as an example of their act of love (2 Cor 8.1-5). These poor Macedonians care for the other struggling believers so much that they, out of their scarcity, begged St. Paul and his companions to accept and deliver their gifts to ease the struggles of these believers (v.4).

Following that, in verse 7, St. Paul specifically reminds the Corinthian believers to be serious in helping the poor. He urges them to devote in this work just as how they were devoted to other works. St. Paul invoked the sacrifices of Jesus in verse 9 as an authoritative example to further persuade the Corinthians to show their love for their fellow Christians through their action.

St. Paul was saying something like this, “Jesus loves us and he proved to us his love by giving up his riches for our sake. And in the same way you who are loving should prove your love to your fellow believers through your action.” Hence on the last verse, St. Paul urged the Corinthian once more to “give proof before the churches of your love” (v.24).

Hence the allusion to the riches of Christ is not a divine authorization for his readers to claim material wealth in the present life. He meant the exact opposite. What St. Paul really wanted , by invoking Jesus' sacrifice, was urge the Corinthians to share their wealth with other struggling believers. On the other hand, Christ's 'richness' is not his material wealth or his material prosperity, as implied by JP, but his divinity. JP appears to got both of these wrong.

I have gathered further data on 2 Cor 8.9 at the Appendix below.

Caution Point 3: JP misread John 1.17 and, due to that, wrongly affirms that ‘grace’ is the person Jesus Christ. Pointing to John 1.17 (KJV), JP wrote,

Notice that the law was given, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The law was given, implying a sense of distance, but grace came! Grace came as a person and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the personification of grace. Jesus is grace!” (Bold are original, p.25)

Just as JP’s missed-reading of the tense in Rom 5.17, he missed another important word in this passage. It is the word ‘by’ (KJV). His slip is evident in the emphases he pointed out,

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (Bold are original, p.25)

JP’s understanding of the passage does not make any sense. The Greek preposition used in John 1.17 is δια (dia). And Greek grammar states that ‘dia’ has two meanings. Each meaning depends on the case of its object. So if the case of the object is in the accusative, ‘dia’ means “because”. And if the object is in the genitive, ‘dia’ means “through”.

In this passage, ‘dia’ is followed by the genitive ιησου χριστου (Iesou Xristou). So the preposition is ‘through’. Thus in other translations such as the ESV, John 1.17 reads, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

It is clear that the preposition ‘through’ does not grant JP the liberty to simply assert, “Jesus is grace”. Both the English and the Greek version do not allow for such interpretation. If someone claims to understands John 1.17 to mean, “Jesus is grace”, then he/she is confused over how language works.

If someone says, “This letter came through that door”, we cannot conclude that the letter is the door. To understand that ‘the letter is the door’ makes no sense at all. The letter came through the door; the letter is NOT the door. Simple logic.

Later on the same page, JP further mistaken grace as truth. His argument is along this line: Because ‘truth’ is on the side of ‘grace’ in John 1.17, and the Word of God declares that if you know the truth, the truth will set you free, therefore grace is the truth that will set you free. (p.25)

To put JP’s argument in preposition sequence:

Premise 1: ‘Truth’ is besides ‘grace’ in John 1.17
Premise 2: Word of God declares that ‘truth’ will set you free if you know it
Conclusion: Therefore ‘grace’ is ‘truth’ that will set you free

There is no logical sequence in this proposition. His major mistake lies in his misreading of Premise 1 that if ‘truth’ is found beside ‘grace’ in a sentence, then that means ‘truth’ is ‘grace’. This is flawed logic. John and James came into the world through their mother. That does not mean therefore ‘John is James’ and they are their mother! JP is simply uttering gibberish here unless he is actually speaking in a kind of tongue that seems like English but is not English.

One more puzzle: If JP concludes that ‘grace is truth’ and ‘Jesus is grace’ in John 1.17, I wonder why he did not conclude that ‘Moses is the law’? Are not all came through the same passage?



Further references on St. Paul's intended usage of 2 Cor 8.9:

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
On St. Paul's intention by referring to Jesus in verse 9: ...these Corinthians were diligent to do, as well as to know and talk well. To all these good things the apostle desires them to add this grace also, to abound in charity to the poor. The best arguments for Christian duties, are drawn from the grace and love of Christ.

Bible Gateway Commentary:
On St. Paul's intention by referring to Jesus in verse 9: [Paul] seeks rather to test the sincerity of [the Corinthians'] love by comparing it with the earnestness of others (v. 8). In short, he tries to motivate them by means of some friendly competition...Paul turns not only to the Macedonian churches to test the Corinthians' sincerity but also to Christ himself, the supreme example of generosity. It has been said that no one can outgive God. There is no better proof of this than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 9).

On the meaning of 'Christ's richness': Paul is probably thinking of the riches of Christ's heavenly existence, which included equality with God and being in the form of God (Phil 2:6). But then Christ became poor. This was a voluntary action on his part. The aorist is most likely ingressive: Christ "entered into a state of" poverty. Paul undoubtedly has the incarnation in mind, when Christ gave up the "riches" of heavenly existence to assume an earthly state called "poverty." Christ went from riches to rags so that we might go from rags to riches. What are these riches? Although Paul referred too verses earlier to the Corinthians' rich spiritual endowments, it is more likely that here he is thinking of the riches of salvation. No fewer than eight riches have been mentioned thus far in the letter: the down payment of the Spirit (1:22; 5:5), daily renewal (4:16), an eternal weight of glory (4:18), an eternal house in heaven (5:1), unending fellowship with Christ (5:8), new creation (5:17), reconciliation (5:18) and righteousness (5:21).

Keener, Craig S. Witherington III, Ben. 1-2 Corinthians , p.205
On St. Paul's intention by referring to Jesus in verse 9: "Commanding" was inappropriate for deliberative rhetoric asking a favor, so Paul takes a more strategic approach here. Here he "tests" the genuiness of [the Corinthians'] love, as he "tested" them in 2:9 (cf.8.24). Writers often invited their adressees to prove their love for them by some particular favor the writer needed, often on behalf of a third party... Example was one tool that persuaders used to advance a case, and Paul produces the most authoritative example of all.

Wright, N.T. Paul For Everyone: 2 corinthians, p.90
On the meaning of 'Christ's richness': Jesus, with all the 'riches' of his life in the glorious mystery of God's inner being, became 'poor', both in the sense that becoming human was an astonishingly humbling thing and in the sense that the human life he took on was not royal, right and splendid in the world's terms but instead poor, humble and eventually shameful.

Hahn, Scott and Mitch, Curtis. The First and Second Letters of Saint Paul To The Corinthians.

Or one may also contact New Testament scholar Dr. Lim Kar Yong, who has done major research at the University of Wales on this particular letter of St. Paul, to further inquire about this passage or the letter as a whole. Who knows he might send you a copy of his USD$130 publication (!).


pearlie said...

Thanks for posting the reviews. I am looking forward for more :)
God bless!

Kar Yong said...

The free copy of my US$130 publication is only given to LKY Ministries Inner Circles platinum elite members, as mentioned in my blog...hahahaahah

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Pearlie,

Glad the reviews are helpful. I'm personally benefited from this series.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Yes, right. So those who seek for your professional consultation should also be encouraged to join the LKY ministry inner circle partnership. Then they will get a free copy!



Charis-Aletheia said...

I can only see yours and LKY's understanding on scriptures is very "Man-chanics" and very academic. Lack the touch of the Holy Spirit.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi charis-alethia,

Thank you for commenting.

Could you help to share what do you mean by:
1) "Man-chanics" and academic?
2)Our understanding lack the touch of the Holy Spirit?

Nice and profound nick you have there :)

Kok Seng said...

Dear charis-alethia,
Can you also explain what you mean on the touch of the holy spirit? Physically touched?
The church should have more people like Sze Zeng to expose such poluted teachings in christianity. Does Prince have a degree? Did he study theology? Sze Zeng's wisdom is from God through the holy bible. He is a bible scholar who will one day rise up to be a great teacher of the bible. Sze Zeng is like the great Pharisees in the bible who go around to exposed the wrongs teaching of other people. The church need more people like him who has this new great commission - to keep the tradition of the church through the ages and expose the polution of the the devil.

Charis-alethia, are your views from God? Do you have a theological degree? You should repent of your sins.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Kok Seng,

Allow me to clarify my endeavor here. I'm not out to question Joseph Prince's credential as a pastor or bible teacher. Neither do I think that a pastor necessarily obtain a theological degree before start his ministry. I'm just as a normal Christian who desire to find out more about what other Christian's views about the faith. In this case, Joseph Prince's views.

I'm not a bible scholar nor a theologian. Whether my wisdom is from God or not I don't know. But certainly I hope it is. I'm inclined towards the research and works done by theologians and biblical scholars and pastors, but I dont regard them as perfect in their knowledge, teachings, and writings. As I'd imply, neither do I think low of them. In fact I have high regards on them.

What I'm doing here is a series of 'deeper look' into Joseph Prince's book, just as how others have been doing on other books in other areas. So I think anyone who are so inclined can do such exercises.

And the sarcastic remark that I'm like Pharisees is a misunderstanding. As I had told a friend about 3 weeks ago, I am having Augustine, Athanasia, Ignatius, Ireanus, Polycarp etc in mind, not the Pharisees.

Hope that clarifies :)

Charis-Aletheia said...

Interesting,"Pharisees" on the last note
Daring Kok Seng to use such a quote

People back in Jesus days, seriously
Are the most learned Pharisees and Sadducees

One is a master of the Oral Law
The other, an expert in Written Law

Probably strong in linguistics too
Paid much attention to grammar just like you.

Full of knowledge and information
But a bankrupt in revelation.

Jesus stood right in front of them
Yet they know not the Messiah is with them

Man-chanic or Man-chanistic means lots of works and understanding relating to man's ability. The scholastics will be amused or amazed by your academic explanation.

Lack of the Holy Spirit means lack of revelation from God, i.e. some people just can't see Jesus is a personification of God's grace because it is blocked by a preposition. Similarly, in another common verse speaks Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! We need a lot of the Holy Spirit (not knowledge or grammar skills though important but not the most) when we read the scriptures and the Holy Spirit will give us understanding. Holy Spirit also will show us humility.

Sze Zeng said...


Jesus paid as much attention to the grammar just like the Pharisees. One can even says Jesus is also the master of the Law. In fact the the NT portrays Jesus as the embodiment of the Law.

Hence I'm grateful and humbled that you put me alongside Jesus and the Pharisees.

On the Holy Spirit, pls stop domesticating the Holy Spirit. Don't invoke the Holy Spirit to justify any bullshits. That's violating the Holy Spirit and the Church. It's like gropping Christ's groin.

If any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Joseph comes about claiming that the Holy Spirit reveal this to him or her and hence whatever he teaches is true, then nothing is true.

Charis-Aletheia said...

Sze Zeng:
If it is bullshit for telling people that Jesus is Grace and Truth, then who is the false teacher here? So domesticating your human spirit is permissible? I hear a problem on not able to discern what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not, therefore you write-off even someone who is truly lead by the Holy Spirit? That is generalising, isn't it? Generalising is generally lies.

peter said...

Hi Joshua,

I have a few bones to piok with you on your review but haven't got time yet to.

But I want to take issue with your statement in your reply to charis-alethia.

You wrote; "In fact the the NT portrays Jesus as the embodiment of the Law."

I think it is heresy because it cannot be supported by the NT. Jesus may be a master of the Law and came to fulfill the Law.

Also your comments on not domesticating the Holy Spirit is totally out of whack here. What makes you so sure that the Holy Spirit does not give revelation to individuals now?

BTW, when someone invokes the Holy Spirit to justify his/her claims and you call it buillshit... well, be careful, lest you blaspheme. (Both parties have to know and be sure. But finally God is the judge.)

Your language leaves me quite bewildered... fruits...fruits... brother.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi C-A,

Thank you for the comment.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1.17)

JP’s understanding of the passage does not make any sense. It is clear that the preposition ‘through’ does not grant JP the liberty to simply assert, “Jesus is grace”.

If someone says, “This letter came through that door”, we cannot conclude that the letter is the door. To understand that ‘the letter is the door’ makes no sense at all. The letter came through the door; the letter is NOT the door. Simple logic.

Therefore the idea that 'Jesus is Grace' is not in the Bible. And since it is not in the Bible, it is bullshit.

And here I'm very clear that I'm contending against "Jesus is the Truth". John 14.6 is clear that Jesus is the Truth. This is not bullshit because it's in the Bible. If JP says Jesus is the Truth, I'll say "Amen". The problem with "Jesus is Grace" is not in the Bible.

Can someone who make a claim that is not supported by the Bible be of the Holy Spirit? Definitely not. Because if it is through the Holy Spirit, then the claim should be found in the Bible.

Hence, I am not generalising here. I'm dealing with a specific text (John 1.17) used by JP.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi Peter,

If you are sincere in finding out and talking through this issue, which I sense that you are, pls email me.

Because I get many anonymous comments that are just insincere in learning. All the while when I do the review, I never assume that I have any "last say" on anything. So I appreciate real discussion that is serious to find out more together.

Tay said...

Hi Charis Alethia and Peter

I don't see what is wrong with being academic. What is wrong though is dead orthodoxy (I don't know Joshua well enough to conclude that, and I believe neither does anyone else, unless you too like to generalise. What is also wrong is the anti-intellectual spirit that pervades many of our churches today and make people believe dubious doctrines.

Why should Joshua's concern with grammar be something to be used against him? Without grammar, I can claim that Jesus Christ is God the Father. I can also make myself the pope.

I have a copy of JP's book with me, and I am appalled with some of the theology he advocates, so it's definitely not Joshua and his 'academics' alone. Why don't both of you try to rebutt him?

One thing I do not understand is how people can give unfailing support to doctrines that are considered dubious by many evangelicals. If my church or my denomination's doctrines are being attacked, the first thing I will do is to give the benefit of the doubt and sit down and evaluate them. Not support my leader/pastor blindly.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi Derrick,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You have pointed out rightly about the false dichotomy between 'academic' and 'faithful to God'. I am with you in "loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind."


Garret said...

Thanks Sze Zeng for the reviews. Yes I have been repeatedly hearing that JP speaking of grace every other other line. Him quoting scriptures of old testament can be quite out of context and he quickly breezes through them and not ponder on it as to what they actually meant. Rather, he uses them to support his self-proclaimed statements.

Out of curiosity, what are his academic background? If he is of a credible source, there's no reason to hide it. The fact that you couldnt simple google this famous pastor's background led me to your site about his false doctrines on certain gray areas.

Thanks again and I look forward to reading your comment. Good day and God bless.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Garret,

Nice to have you here.

I have no idea of Joseph Prince's academic background too.

In his sermons, he likes to contrast his current teachings with his previous experience at the "word faith movement" (his words). Not sure if its identical with the problematic "Word of Faith" (a.k.a "Word-faith") movements or not.

Thank you for your comments. Blessings.

~*Gabrielle*~ said...

Pardon me.

I'm a member of NCC. Just to input my 2 cents worth.

Why are y'all so bothered about the academic background of Pastor Prince? The bible has never stated that a preacher is to be academically qualified to preach. If not, how, then, are the disciples of Jesus qualified to spread the gospel? (e.g. Peter - a fisherman before he became Jesus' disciple).

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Gabrielle,

I have no concern over JP's academic background. So my review is discern on his current work not how many degrees he has.

Thank you for your comment.

Aaron said...

Thanks Sze Zeng for pointing out the logical fallacies of Prince's arguments. I share similar views with you. Wanted to write on this, but thank God you've saved me the trouble.

After reading some of JP's supporter's responses to criticism, it seems to me that many of their responses are filled with such logical fallacies as well. Like shepherd, like sheep?

Aaron said...


"Man-chanic or Man-chanistic means lots of works and understanding relating to man's ability. The scholastics will be amused or amazed by your academic explanation. "

I don't think you want to fault anyone here for dealng with Greek grammar or even Greek text. Joseph Prince appeals to the Greek and Hebrew language frequently. Unless you think that Only Joseph Prince has the authority to invoke the use of original languages and no one else, I trust that you'll be open to hear what those better trained in Greek and Hebrew has to say about Prince's use of those languages. Calling those who studies Greek manchanistic is hardly helpful. As you can see, your cherished pastor falls into the same category too.

Morever, I'm not surpised that you raised objections specifically against the examination of grammar. Most of the Greek that Prince uses to support his cleverly invented doctrine is based solely on the Greek words, of which their meanings he renders to his liking. He hardly pays attention to Greek grammar which we know, together with the context of the passage, influences the meaning of a word. D. A. Carson reminds us, "a text without a context is a pretext for a prooftext."

As for the charge of being manchanistic and devoid of revelation, may I ask what is your view of revelation? What is the word of God? Does one raise objection toward something that he/she has no definition?

Aaron said...

Sze Zeng:

To your critique on Prince's rendering of "Jesus is grace", I'd like to further point out a grave theological error made by Prince.
In Prince's view, Grace "is a person, and His name is Jesus." (Destined to Reign, p. 24). Hence, Prince argues that "to have the abundance of grace is to have the abundance of Jesus." Sze Zeng is right to point out that "grace" coming through Jesus is not the same and does not lead to equating grace as a person. I'd like to add this: to say that Grace is a person is to mistake an attribute of God for His essential nature. Hence, one may just as well read "The Lord is a sun and shield" (Ps 84:11) and imagine God as a great big ball of hydrogen in the sky! Grace is an attribute of God, not God himself. God is not made up of grace! Grace is only one of the many attributes of God. And in the biblical view, God's mercy and grace can only be understood in light of his holiness, justice and righteousness as witnessed by the law (Torah) and the prophets (Rom 3:21; though one could say that Paul conflated the meaning of holiness and justice into the word dikaiosune "righteousness").

Therefore. to pit law against grace as if law is the attribute of the devil (this I infer from Prince's writing on page 25), is nothing short of a false dichotomy. Both law and grace tells us something about God. The question is not whether law can coexist or contradict grace, the question is how law is related to grace.
To think of law as an antithesis of grace is to think of God as having some kind of split personality. One moment, he is vindictive and wrathful (as in some caricatures of the OT). Another moment, he is all lovey-dovey.

The NT never pits law against grace in terms of what these two concept signifies about God. The NT, however, does pit the manner which we relate to the law against the way of grace. Paul's message critiques how the early Christians see the law as means to achieving righteousness before God. Paul, however, does not denounce the law, but how people uses the law as a pathway to righteousness.

This distinction between the nature of the law and man's response to it is an important distinction which Joseph Prince neglects to his peril and to the peril of others.

Oliver Chew said...

If Christians were to adopt this criterion, we will have to recognize that Docetism, Gnosticism, Arianism, and many other false teachings as “powerful”. Reason is because these teachings attract controversies, and their proponents assert them to be based on and tested against the Bible.

With reference to your above comment, the thing is those strange religions though controversial, are not even biblical truths to begin with. JP was talking about biblical truths that happen to be controversial.

Anyway, due to our fallen nature, I'm sure I'll get to read you misquoting, misinterpreting JP as much as JP himself makes some hits and misses. Well, thankfully, we have the grace of God, which in spite of the hits and misses, we get to the same conclusion- God's grace is sufficient for us.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Oliver Chew,

When I make that statement, I didn't presuppose whether is JP's teaching is biblical or not. I was trying to see if the criterion he has listed reliable.

The point that I wanted to make is that his criterion is not able to differentiate his teaching from those of Arian and the Gnostic. Therefore his criterion is not reliable.

Oliver Chew said...

"The point that I wanted to make is that his criterion is not able to differentiate his teaching from those of Arian and the Gnostic. Therefore his criterion is not reliable."

JP may use the same set of criteria, but that doesn't mean the truth is distorted. I'm not sure why you can't differentiate his teaching from the Gnostics just because he's using the same criteria. That's like saying I play worship songs using modern music and therefore I'm playing the devil's music.

Anyway, a controversial truth being more powerful is simply a matter of common sense. Controversial or not, all truths are powerful. But some truths will stand out more than others due to controversy and therefore it is powerful. I don't think JP is asking us to set that as a criteria. But he's simply placing emphasis on the grace message.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Oliver,

Please see that I am not saying JP distorts the 'truth'. As I have said, I don't presume the veracity of his teaching whether is his teaching true or not in the post. His teaching may be true and may be not true.

My concern is his criterion.

Your analogy of playing worship song in contemporary style is not appropriate, I think. In the case of the post, I am not saying that playing worship songs in contemporary manner is of the devil. I am merely asking what is the criteria we use to see if contemporary style belongs or does not belong to God.

Whether you think JP ask us to set that up as criteria or not, that is your liberty. I am engaging with what JP has written, not what your thoughts of JP.

Oliver Chew said...

I'm puzzled. You said JP's criterion is not able to differentiate his teaching from the Gnostics. Isn't that saying JP teaches the same thing as the Gnostics and don't the Gnostics distort the truth? Or it seems like you are saying 2 different things in this post?

The analogy of using worship songs is not inappropriate. We're talking about criteria, which is a means to an end. Modern music is a means to either worship of God, or the devil. Of course you can define it further with a deeper set of criterion but that's like going around in a circle in terms of debating. I rather not go in circles when I debate, but go straight to the point.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Oliver,

You are puzzled because you mistaken that I am saying JP's teaching Gnosticism, which I am not.

Now, "Criteria" is not merely a means to an end, as you put it. It is about evaluation. "Media" like music is not merely a means to an end. It is about channel of communication. The meaning and function of the word "Criteria" is different fundamentally from "Media."

Your analogy presumes this logic:

1) "Criteria" is a means to an end.
2) "Media" is a means to an end.
3) Therefore "Media" is "Criteria."
4) Therefore it is okay to use analogy that identifies "Criteria" as "Media".

The problem is that this presumption totally confuses the meaning of "Criteria" and "Media." When you forcefully limiting both words to simply mean "means to an end" and nothing more than that, you have lost the meaning and function of both words.

It is like saying since a monkey have hair like JP, so both are the same species. If you forcefully limiting the identification only to having hair, then yes you can say that monkey and JP are the same species. And I think this is false and not appropriate.

Oliver Chew said...

Perhaps you should edit your comments then because you said his teaching cannot be differentiated from those of the Gnostics. I find it quite impossible that it means something else other than what was literally written.

As for media, it's a part of criteria as much as your head is part of your body, but your head is not the body. We are members of Christ, but we are not Christ. meingkb

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Oliver,

The context (that is the post) from which I made the comment already shows that when I say we can't differentiate JP's teaching from those of the Gnostics, in the sense that we can verify which of theirs are true based on the criterion that JP adopts. I suppose anyone who understand the context of this post and the comments would know that.

You didn't really engage my point here. As I have showed you that although Criteria and Media share a similar feature (as means to an end), yet they are not identical for the purpose of this discourse. In this context, it is about verifying truthfulness of a statement and not about being a 'means to an end'. And that's why I say that your analogy breaks down. You mistaken that this discourse is on 'means to an end' but it is on verifying truthfulness.

Oliver Chew said...

I didn't engage your point as much as you didn't engage mine. If criteria is used to verify truthfulness of a statement, then it is in itself, a means to an end. The analogy did not break down. Your understanding of two different phrases with identical meanings did.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Oliver,

You have the liberty to limit the two different words to mere 'means to an end' in the same way as saying JP and monkey belong to the same species because both of them have hair.

That's fine with me if you chose to take that reasoning.

Joseph Ho said...


I hope in this conversation here that all of you can now appreciate that we are not of the same spirit. Jesus gave us the same spirit to drink. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of truth, yet we do not agree as one. That means all of you have got to consider if indeed all of you are in Christ. The answer is obviously no. Psalm 133, this indicates we are not brothers in Christ. We disagree with the truth. There is only one truth. Without the True Spirit of God there can be no understanding using the human intellect. Anyone can and will claim that he speaks from the Holy Spirit, but the blasphemy against the Spirit is unforgiveable. Unless anyone wants to dispute that, it is written in the bible. God said do not use my name in vain, and anyone who does that God will himself see to it that justice is done. He chastise those whom he calls son. So the final conclusion of this matter is carnal mind is an enemy of the Spirit for they cannot agree. Jesus already said that the weeds and the wheat will not be separated until the end of time. He will decide who are the weeds that spread false teachings and who are the wheat that upheld his teachings. So we should not try here to convince anyone who is right. A warning here is in order, anyone who calls himself a teacher will be punish with greater blows when he teaches heresy, myths and fairy tales. In the book of proverbs all false witness shall perish with their followers, and this was repeated 3 times which means it is a very serious offence to cause the little children to stumble and fall. The bible can be used either way to support anyone's delusion when it is used in part. Therefore, it will not be fruitful to argue over much matters. The wolf in sheep skin is definitely inside the church now, so all must beware. But the time to straighten this out has not come. I would be concern and be very worried for the false witness for he will perish if he teaches heresy. I have a JH initials therefore my name is also Joseph.