Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chapter 13: The Gift Of No Condemnation

Caution Point 1: Joseph Prince (JP) ignores the answer that Jesus gave to his disciples when they asked him whether the blind man in John 9.1-7 is blind because of his sins or his ancestors’ sins. JP wrote,

When Jesus and His disciples saw a man born blind, His disciples asked Him if the man was born blind because he had sinned or because his parents had sinned. Jesus answered, “Neither.” He went on to say, “I am the light of the world,” and proceeded to open the man’s eyes…
My friend, when there is a problem, deal with it. Don’t ask if it is your father’s fault, your grandfather’s fault… No, let’s learn to handle situations Jesus’ way. When faced with a man who was blind, Jesus declared that He was the light of the world and proceeded to heal the man.” (p.162)

I am not sure why JP ignores Jesus’ answer and depicts the story in John 9.1-7 in a distorted way. Instead of saying what the passage really says, JP seems to be trying to bring out his own motivational teaching on methods on problem solving.

Let’s look at John 9.1-7 (ESV):

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” (Emphasis added)

JP left out a whole chunk of Jesus’ answer. JP makes the scenario as if when Jesus faced with that question, he responded by simply saying, “Neither. I am the light of the world”, and then immediately “proceeded to heal the man” (p.162).

In John 9.3, JP is right to note that Jesus explicitly said that the blind man’s blindness is neither due to his sins or his ancestors’ sins. JP is ignoring all that Jesus said after that. It seems like JP has edited a part of the story by censoring the scene where Jesus was revealing the reason why the man was blind in verse 3.

Why JP censored that portion of the “Word of God”? Does that imply that JP has problem with what Jesus said?

Jesus said that the reason the man is blind is so that “the works of God might be displayed in him” (The Greek word ‘φανερωθη’- read ‘phanerothe’- which translated as ‘displayed’ in ESV carries a revealing tone of ‘making appearance’ or ‘manifesting’). JP has a problem with that?

Anyway, it strikes the reader that JP is ignoring what the “Word of God” is saying here. And it incites the suspicion that JP wanting to bring out his own teaching rather than really expounding what Jesus was saying in the Scripture.

Jesus seems to be like a doll for JP to twist and turn as he likes. Wherever there are places where Jesus said something that JP doesn’t agree with, JP just seals Jesus’ mouth with tape or censored them. Previously I’ve noticed that JP has done that to St. Paul in the chapter 1 of this book, now he is doing that to Jesus.

Hence it is not puzzling that some bookshops like the Popular Bookshop at Bras Basah Complex displayed ‘Destined to Reign’ among the self-helping, self-prospering, and self-motivating books instead of the ‘Christian Living’ or ‘Religion’ section. Could it be that the staffs at the bookshop know that this book is more about self-helping rather than about Jesus?

With content like this, it is hard to refuse such recognition. Or perhaps, was it JP’s instruction that his book be displayed at such section?

Caution Point 2: Could JP painting a wrong picture about non-believers’ perception of Christianity?

On page 164, JP assumes without any data that, “If you conduct a poll among non-believers to find out what they know about Christianity, many of them would probably be familiar only with the Ten commandments. They know only about the law that kills and not the Person who came to bring life!

Be cautious on this point because there is no data to support what JP wrote. One can deem it as JP’s attempt to polarize his own teaching which he believe to be emphasizing on ‘grace’ against the common belief out there which he thinks emphasizes the ‘law’. Of course, that polarization is a false picture that he has been attempting to paint on other Christians throughout his ministry and this book.

Caution Point 3: Could JP himself not under grace?

It is interesting that gives an example of what he will say to those who claimed to be under grace yet still live in sin. JP wrote,

I’ll say to him: “No, you are no under grace. The Bible says that sin shall not have dominion over you when you are not under law but under grace (referring to Rom 6.14). So if you are living in sin, you are definitely not under grace.” (Bold original, p.166-167)

On page 16, JP recognizes that, “God gave the law for one purpose, and that is by the law, the world would have the knowledge of sin (referring Rom 3.20), and recognize their need for a Saviours. Without the law, there would be no sin (referring Rom 4.15).”

And JP considers the ‘law’ is the Ten Commandments whenever the term appears in the Bible (see page 120 for example). Then that means the believers need to be conscious of the Ten Commandments in order to know whether is he/she is living under sin. If not, it does not make sense for JP to differentiate whether a person is living in sin or not. JP knows what kind of living is considered as sinful only if he knows the Ten Commandments.

Now, according to the Ten Commandments, there are two clauses specifically states that “You shall have no other gods before me (Exo 20.3)” and “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

JP is distorting the person of Jesus in the way he did as mentioned in Caution Point 1 of this review. This means he is telling the world his own version of Jesus. And the fact that JP’s Jesus is not the Jesus depicted in the Bible, then JP is having another god other than the One mentioned in the Bible. He is living in sin.

And since the author of John’s gospel did not intend his work to be read as how JP has read it, then JP is bearing a false witness against the author. Then JP is living in sin.

When these two instances coupled with what JP said about someone who lives in sin is not under grace, then I think we are legitimate to be cautious whether is JP himself living under grace. Is JP under the grace of his own ‘gospel of grace’? Unless he turn away from distorting Jesus to his congregation or the public, then he is still living in sin. And according to his own standard, he is not under grace?

Anyone who is living in sin is not under grace…” (Bold original, p.167)



Stephen said...

oh, nobody has yet comment on this passage. There are too many inconsistencies with JP, n e fact that he twistes the grace msg n make it his own revelation. Grace is good, no doubt. But to focus on Grace as a primary theme of his church n as his revelation from God is absurd. i m a theoly student, n i know i will go all out to challeng such false teachings 1 day. N i m sure God is raising up a few other strong warriors grounded in theology yet filled with His spirit to challenge the false truths that prepares the way for anti-christ.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Stephen,

I'm glad you find the stuffs helpful! :-)

Max Andrew said...

Hi Sze zheng,
GALATIAN 5:4 . You don't understand what is God's grace actually. Let's me tell you. since I know God's grace in my life, My life totally changed . whatever I ask, God provided. I became suprised to see myself totally change. Since I know grace of God, I forgive other more easily. Whatever THING you do, believe me . .God still love you son. He die on the cross so that we win on SIN ! If God really an ANGRY GOD? Then why HE DIE FOR US ? No matter what are you doing now. .God still loves you. remember this, ask GOD. .please read this LUKE 15:1-32.It's Jesus HIMSELF said that ~ Make yourself understand. God bless. :)