Monday, October 16, 2006

My Purpose-driven testimony

Nope, this is not a testimony of how much I have grown by becoming purpose-driven. On the contrary, this is my testimony of what I have gone through so far in my encounter with the purpose driven paradigm. Before analyzing the book on transitioning by Dan Southerland, which shows us the methods used in transforming a church into a Purpose Driven® Church (Note: the registered trademark symbol is not there for no reason), I would like to share my personal testimony regarding this issue first. I have since left my former church and therefore am now not under their leadership, and am thus free to call them publicly to account for their blatant compromise and even (dare I say it?) apostasy. Here goes:


Since the start of the Purpose Driven episode in my life, which started with my former church’s (Covenant Presbyterian Church) promotion of the 40 Days of Purpose to the publication of my e-book dealing with this issue; it has been a hard time of testing for me. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I was severely tested and tried as I struggled with the feeling of hurt and betrayal by those whom I had placed my trust in, and the scarcity of friends who can share my struggles did not help matters either. In fact, I suffered from systemic depression throughout the entire period from April 2004 (when the former episode revolving the promotion of a Catholic booklet by the leadership erupted) to December 2005. It was only the fellowship of my Christian friends in NUS Campus Crusade at that time (though they did not know what was going on) and a few other close friends at that time that my emotional state did not worsen further.

During this particular trying period of mine, God provided me with a needed period of resting and feeding on His Word away from the battlefield that was my former compromised church through the 6 months of my Student Exchange Program in London. It was during the time I was there that I was ministered to while attending Metropolitan Tabernacle, a Reformed Baptist church and Spurgeon’s former church. After returning back to Singapore, it was only after the publishing of the e-book, followed by attending the Metamorphosis student conference in December 2005 that God finally healed me of the hurts sustained from the episode and what I termed the ‘Romanist’ episode before that.

Through this painful period, God has taught me certain things, and for that I am thankful. ‘For we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose’. (Rom. 8:28 – ESV). Therefore, I will praise God for this time of testing, that He has sovereignly ordained so that I may be conformed more and more to Him who is the author and finisher of my faith.

Before I share these things, I would like to say that I still stick to my former position regarding the dangerous errors found in the Purpose Driven® Life and the Purpose Driven phenomenon as a whole. I will never compromise the Gospel as it is the faith once for all delivered to the Saints (Jude 1:3), God willing even under the threat of death. For to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). I will never cease warning people about the dangerous errors and even heresies found in that error-ridden book and even more so as manifested in the movement itself, even until my last breath. I want to be clear that I will never support nor give assent to this heretical and schismatic movement within the visible body of Christ, which is splitting churches apart, promoting aberrant doctrine and teaching people to play fast and loose with the Word of God. Lord willing, I will continue to abide in Christ as He gives me the will and ability to persevere in the faith.

Now, with regards to the lessons God has taught me, the first lesson is the cost of following Jesus. I’m sure most of us knows the classic verse Matthew 16:24 where Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow Him (be a Christian) must take up his cross and follow Him. Most of us who are living in the free world do not experience much persecution and enjoy the freedom to worship, pray and to evangelize. Probably the only persecution most of us Singaporean Christians face is the laziness to even go to church; or for those of us who are actively witnessing for Christ, rejection by people. We simply cannot even begin to fathom the sufferings of the saints in countries such as China, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. Through this episode, I learned and was given a small taste of what it means to follow Jesus, as I was shunned by people from the church I was formerly in, was unfairly judged by the leaders and condemned because of my stand against their blatant doctrinal compromise and felt the heartaches knowing full well the number of people who are being led astray. Even my then Young Adult cell leader who was rather kind to me initially when the controversy erupted did not exhibit the same attitude when I talked to him about his own departure from sound doctrine, where he basically denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone and advocates the heresy of Christian contextualized postmodern relativism (This is your interpretation; that is your interpretation, [you have no right to say my interpretation is wrong and yours is right]). I was for the most part alone in my struggles, as I oftentimes felt depressed as the words I say and my warnings from the Word of God fell on the hardened grounds of my hearers.

Another thing that I have to learn the hard way is to trust in God alone. Theoretically, at least most of us know that we are to trust in God alone in everything. Putting it into practice is another thing altogether, however. A lot of my depressions during this period were due to the fact that I wanted people to change and of course, they didn’t. I wanted my senior pastor to preach the pure Word of Christ; instead he quotes from the heretic Henri Nouwen and uses the Message pervasion. I wanted people to wake up and discern the times, to see the rotten root and fruit of the Purpose Driven phenomenon; instead, they continue supporting the pastor without checking the Scriptures for themselves, blindly following authority, as Singaporeans are rather famous for doing. I have to learn through many rejections and hurts that changing people is NOT my job. I can only proclaim the message, but it is the Holy Spirit who changes and transforms people. I have came to see the ugly fruit of depraved Man, even among professing Christians and Christian leaders as they reject the words of God and follow the counsel of Man, which is partially manifested in their pride as they reject the words of God in favor of what they think is best and not listening to the warnings from Scripture. Indeed, the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to see the practical outworkings of the truth of both Total depravity and monergistic grace through this episode.

Thirdly, I have personally learned about the church and the body of believers in Christ, by means of the negative example shown by Rick Warren and company. Rick Warren treats the church as a company, where people are judged on the basis of being an asset or a liability. Indeed, the entire seeker-sensitive, church growth movement is based on this one principle of pragmatism. Though different people may take it to different levels, churches who subscribe to these principles tend to treat people more as human resources than as humans born in the image of God (Imago Dei). They may try to clothed the process by biblical terminology all they can, even talking about people not catching the vision that ‘God has given to them’ as being resisting God[1], but the fact of the matter is that they are treating people as human capital to be used to fulfill their own earthly, unbiblical agenda. Thus, if certain members have proven or are proving to be a liability, they are to be removed so that the church can remain healthy (Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p.16). Dissenters are to be removed from the church as they obstruct the church’s vision, and shamed and shunned if needed to force them to leave or change[2]. Because of this negative example, I have learned to treasure the communion of saints more and also to learn to treat the church as an organism, not an organization. Also, I have become more sensitive towards the tactics people use in treating their fellow Christians as human resources rather than as valuable people bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In conclusion, I would like to thank God for bringing me through all this, for the things that he has thought me, to prune me for better service in Him and through Him; to bear fruit that will last for Him.

As for my former church, the Lord commands you to repent of your sins and compromises; otherwise He has promised in His Word that He will spit you out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). And for the members who remain, the Lord Almighty commands you to separate from the church (2 John 1: 10-11) for your own good, since whoever remains in there is doing so in clear defiance of Scripture and would be susceptible to corruption just as a little leaven (which symbolizes sinful compromise) would leaven the whole loaf (cf. Gal. 5:9). This is especially so since the Purpose-driven paradigm and other similar pseudo-Evangelical paradigm uses the process of dialetics[3] to slowly force changes on the unsuspecting person. In the end, the person would become exactly just like the proverbial frog which was unknowingly cooked in a pot of water by ever so slowly increasing the temperature until the frog is dead. Therefore, do leave and seperate from them before whatever spiritual life which remains in you is destroyed by the Purpose-driven paradigm.


[1] Dan Southerland (1999), Transitioning: Leading your church through change, Chapter 6 Dealing with Opposition, published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[2] Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 4: Dealing with dissenters (http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/4-purpose-resisters.htm)

[3] More specifically, they are using Socialist Hegelian dialetics which is explained more in detail here. Also, it can be seen in Southerland's book Transitioning, which I will mention again in my book review of it.

8 comments:

Jenson's Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ddd said...

Hello Jenson,

no, I didn't have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Masters about my issues. Anyway, as a visitor, I think I shouldn't disturb him by taking up his time as I'm sure he is very busy ministering to his flock, and I'm not the type that would just impose myself on others.

As to biblical seperation, I agree that we have to be gracious to Christians who may not come to see the need to do so yet, but that does not mean that we shouldn't be commanding people in the name of the Lord to do so, especially since the situation in my former church is very dire, and if I would need to step on toes to force some of my friends out of their self-imposed apathy, then I would gladly do so. Anyway, who was the one who asked me to seperate myself from Crusade? Hmmmm....

Regarding the the handling of 'big topics', I don't see the problem that you see. Even if it can be granted that the doctrine of justification is a tough topic, the fact that my YA cell leader was teaching a works-salvation during the cell group session and used that postmodern canard to defuse my questioning of his teachings shows he is totally unfit to teach at all. I wouldn't blame him if he wasn't a leader, and if he didn't teach that while functioning as a teacher of the Word.

Anyway, I don't see what is so hard about the doctrine of justification. Certainly I would not claim that I understand every single thing to know about it, but EVEN immature Christians from Neo-Evangelical churches in Singapore that I know of unaminously agree that salvation is by faith alone and not by works, and NONE will say that salvation include works at any stage. If we can't even agree about thuis basic fact, then shouldn't we just allow Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism to function as legitimate systems of Christian soteriology?

Jenson's Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ddd said...

'But the practical outworkings and applications of that teaching is far-reaching.'

Agreed.

mark said...

' The basic teaching of Scripture is "salvation is by faith alone and not by works". But the practical outworkings and applications of that teaching is far-reaching. '

If you are willing, I would be interested in hearing you elaborate more on this, especially on the idea that this is something the majority of evangelical christians in singapore do not understand.

Are you referring to the proper role and necessity of works in the christian life? Or to something else

ddd said...

Hello Mark,

I can't speak for Jenson, but the idea that I get from what he is saying is the necessity of works in the Christian life which flows from genuine faith. I think he is surprised that Christians in Singapore do believe in the concept of Sola Fide? Most Christians that I know of do.

The problem with most Singapore Christians is not exactly hetero-orthodoxy, but they are infected with anti-intellectualism and non-discernment which result in various compromises. It is only by the grace of God that mainstream Singapore Christianity has not yet gone to the way of liberalism, though the signs are ominous. Oh well, the lesson to learn from history is that Man in general do not learn from history.

Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff were very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th Sep 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].
Peace Be With You
Patrick

ddd said...

Eh Patrick,

thanks for sharing your testimony. I thank God for helping you through this crisis in your life.

If I may just add, I would like to enquire into your affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ but instead teaches salvation by faith + works, thus no true practicing Catholic can ever have assurance of salvation. I am not focused on this issue at the moment but I would like to just share with you this resource here (http://www.justforcatholics.org/ebook.htm) for your edification. Do contact me if you have any questions.