Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kong Hee: Growing the "Church" without the Gospel?

This is surely an *interesting* article on Kong Hee and Phil Pringle's (of Christian City Church in Australia) lauding of Kong Hee's ministry. I guess the article speaks volumes.

"the key to church growth lies in the importance of the leadership of the pastor"

So "pastors" are the key to grow the church now? I think God will surely not agree.

And I [Jesus] tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mt. 16:18)

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47b)

(Bold added)

Not to mention the reference to futurist Erwin McManus. I sure would *like* to see what emerges when you blend the Word-faith, New Apostolic and Emerging Church paradigms together. God help us all.

Do read also Huaizhi's excellent thoughts on this issue at his blog here.

[HT: Romans 11:36]

13 comments:

Isaiah said...

I was catching up on blogs and what transpired at AC2008, and came across the same article as well.

Soon as I saw that, alarm bells started ringing! What?! Kong Hee, a mere man, is KEY to the growth of the Asian church?! Whatever happened to God!?

"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."

-- Acts 2:46-47 ESV, emphasis mine.

PuritanReformed said...

Isaiah:

well, if you measure growth according to their categories, I guess it sure is. God not required; with KH *all* things are possible. 8-)

Isaiah said...

Indeed. I'm counting myself out of *that* Asian church!

PuritanReformed said...

Haha.... me too. *That* Asian church is the harvest field. Tracts? Anyone have tracts?

Isaiah said...

Tracts? Try Jack Chick. :P

PuritanReformed said...

Isaiah:

I don't like Chick tracts, mainly because they are so pooor in argumentation and tend towards ad-hominem.

fivetwosix said...

Hmmm just picked this up. Out of curiosity, dearest Mr.DC, have you ever considered the possibility that those quotes used by the writer of your link were being taken out of context? I'm raising this because I've always trusted you are usually vvvvvv careful in selecting your sources to quote/use, so just checking. : )

Because as a matter of fact, the article was poorly referenced. I was there and it totally wasn't like that at all. There was an entire hour long sermon that accompanied with the loosely quoted "the key to church growth lies in the importance of the leadership of the pastor". I'm happy share with you some day if you're keen.

Meanwhile, if you must quote Acts 2:47b and Mt. 16:18, then, we can't neglect everything that comes before these verses, too. Because they serve as the "conditions" for Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2:47b to come to pass. Seriously, it isn't rocket science for any believer to know that it is the Lord who gives the increase, as 1 Corinth 3:6-15 says it blatantly BUT, it is also highlighted in v10 man's equal responsibility for the increase.

If you were there to hear what was preached, think along the lines of why are there Churches that become stagnant are even suffer decrease? Is it because God is responsible? No. While God is sovereign, there is also man's responsibility, too. Also it isn't rocket science for believers to know that men are the labourers as Mt 9:37-38 blatantly puts it and Jesus said, "ASK the Lord", revealing that harvests don't just happen, it takes action, a responsible one.

Just as Peter was a key figure in the context of when Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2:47b were mentioned in the Word. Especially significant was Acts 2 because that's when the first sermon was preached to the new Church upon the resurrection of Christ and Peter was clearly a "pastoral figure" to address the crowd, communicated the vision, mobilised them into fellowship, and THEN came the increase. I hope this adds a bit more background and insight to the misquoted reference of your referred post. :)

PuritanReformed said...

Hello Jan,

of course I am open to proof that these quotes were taken out of context. The reporter Edmund Chua is someone I was recently acquited with and the Christian Post seems to be somewhat reputable. That said, if you can provide the entire context and show why the article is wrong, I would be more than willing to check it out.

With regards to my point, let me interact with what you have said:

>Seriously, it isn't rocket science for any believer to know that it is the Lord who gives the increase, as 1 Corinth 3:6-15 says it blatantly BUT, it is also highlighted in v10 man's equal responsibility for the increase.

One thing about exegesis of Scripture is that context is important. I am sure you know the mere mention of words and even concepts does not mean that they mean the exact same thing, but the context plays an imortant role in determining its meaning. My quotation of Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2:47b was meant to drive home the point that God ultimately determines growth, not Man or the clever devices of Man. In fact, 1 Cor. 1:18-31 should put an end to any form of boasting in ourselves. If KH truly heeded that passage, he should have rebuked Phil Pringle when he made that statement.

So let's face what the Scriptures say about the matter: nobody is indispensable to the Kingdom of God. I am not indispensable, although I am tempted to think so. Nobody in this world is indispensable in the eyes of God, so why the boasting that a certain person is "the ONE"? Even if KH is truly being used by God (which I dispute), is he indispensable to God's plan? God forbid?! In the passage previous to the one you refer to - 1 Cor. 3:4-5, it is this attitude of boasting in this and that teacher even apostle which the Scripture condemns. Why should anybody, let alone a pastor, think that without him/her or his/her plans, the Kingdom of God would collapse immediately? Do we think so highly of ourselves instead of humbly coming before God as like unworthy servants doing what we are supposed to do (Lk. 17:10)?

The focus of Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2:47b, as stated, was on the absolute sovereignty of God in bringing people to salvation. People are saved not by clever gimmicks or anything of that sort, but only by the proclamation of the Gospel (Rom. 10:17) in which the Holy Spirit uses to bring the sinner from spiritual death to life (Jn. 3:5-8). It is not very good thus to bring in 1 Cor. 3 because the context is different, which I will show.

The context of 1 Cor. 3 is talking about service within and building up the church, not primarily about salvation. Verse 10 therefore as interpeted in this light does not therefore support your stand. Man is never responsible for any increase; we are only held responsible as to whether we have proclaimed the Gospel message and (baptize and) disciple believers who join us (cf the Great Commission Mt. 28:18-20). Since God is the one who gives the growth, it is not for us to take on the perogative of God in trying to manufacture converts.

>If you were there to hear what was preached, think along the lines of why are there Churches that become stagnant are [sic] even suffer decrease?

If you are talking about the Singapore churches, I have my own hypotheses which I think can be substantiated from Scripture - churches in even the so-called conservative circles are not biblical in their theology and practice. That would definitely be a factor as to why they are dying. Yet, numbers alone do not show the true spiritual state of the church. The Church in Smyrna was poor and destitute, yet God commended her (Rev. 2:9-10). Similarly, the Church in Philadephia 'had little power' (which some commenters say refer to weakness in numbers plus politico-socio-economic clout) yet it was similarly commended by God (Rev. 3:8-12). A shaper contrast cannot be found with the Church of Laodicea, a church materially rich yet sternly rebuked by Christ (Rev. 3:15-19). So, numbers, wealth and clout do not equate to spiritual health or even the start of a movement - totally no correlation.

> Is it because God is responsible? No. While God is sovereign, there is also man's responsibility, too.

In one sense, God is responsible. God judges churches who compromise his Spirit and his Truth by removing the lampstand from their midst (Rev. 2:5 cf Zech. 4:1-6, Mt. 5:14-16). When the church has not the Word nor the Spirit, why should people come to it? It is no better than a country club, and the secular companies can always do a better job (until recently) of entertaining the masses.

>Also it isn't rocket science for believers to know that men are the labourers as Mt 9:37-38...

Just because men and women are laborers do not make them responsible for the harvest. We are responsible to be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel, and God will be pleased to use us to save His people through the foolisness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:21 literally rendered "foolishness of preaching").

>Just as Peter was a key figure in the context of when Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2:47b were mentioned in the Word. Especially significant was Acts 2 because that's when the first sermon was preached to the new Church upon the resurrection of Christ

Yes, I do know what you are driving at, but nevertheless we are never to think of ourselves as being indispensable to God's Kingdom. In fact, church history does not know one single influential person (for the better) who thought highly of themselves. Church history is however replete with examples of schismatics and heretics who were proud and thought they mattered greatly to God.

This is of course nothing to do with wanting to reach many people with the Gospel. Nevertheless, the issue has never to do with the preacher's own reputation, but of Christ's reputation, his honor and his glory. Not about him and his plans being essential to God, but always that God alone and His Spirit and Truth is vital.

>Peter was clearly a "pastoral figure" to address the crowd, communicated the vision, mobilised them into fellowship, and THEN came the increase

Peter did addressed the crowd, but there was none of the other activities. I don't see any vision communicatd, unless you mean the Gospel message of repentance and believing in Jesus Christ. As with regads to mobilizing them into fellowship, first of all the believers mobilized themselves, NOT Peter. Secondly, the fellowship only happened AFTER the initial increase of 3000 (Acts 2:41). Thirdly and most importantly, the determining factor is the LORD, not all these activities. In fact, other passages in the book of Acts for example do not have this pattern. What for example caused Lydia to open her heart to the Gospoel of Christ proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:14)? There was certainly no vision communication or fellowship mobilization then!

So in conclusion, my points of contention in this post can be written in these points:

1) KH's high estimation of HIMself and HIS programs
2) KH's mistrust of the Gospel message to save anyone without the aid of his programs and methods
3) KH's usage of New-Age concepts as developed by futurist Erwin McManus

P.S.: I was guessing whether you would comment on this post, seeing you have some vested interests ;) But ya, please do read more of the Word of God. It is not healthy being fed drivel on Sunday. Christianity is about being right with a holy God, not about how He can be used to aid us as if he is a genie, or that He rubber-stamps every plan of ours we can conceive from our own imaginations. We are to follow God, not the other way around.

fivetwosix said...

My dear Mr.DC, If I weren't your friend I would have been gravely offended by the way you say and assume "please do read more of the Word of God. It is not healthy being fed drivel on Sunday." - you speak as if you live with me in my house Mr.DC!! You know that's what I meant by your communication breakdown with those whom you claim 'slander' you. Often people are keen on but just seeking clarification through open dialogue, but in return a judgment gets dished upon them!

So actually, I only came to comment after googling all about the 'slanderers' you told me on FB, so I wanted to test-try the kind of reply you would give to me (a friend for goodness sake) to understand you better and this post came in handy. So if I were to use the way you reply to me to reply to you, I would be saying, "please do walk the walk of Jesus. It's not healthy just sitting behind a non face-to-face medium preaching the Word of God." And how you'd take to this comment will be the same as how I would have after receiving the comment/judgment you've dished. ;)

So my research is done and completed, point proven, ha ha. :) In any case, Ps Pringle's quote was also misquoted+taken out of context and I don't think there is a need for me to say anymore than what I've said because I don't think there is anything inconsistent with what we believe in, you may beg to differ but I definitely don't and I believe God is smiling upon us in this discussion. :) The only difference was that I consider your 3 conclusive points of contention invalid and have given my piece after listening to the sermon and you made yours through a secondary source you trusted, that's all. ;)

PS. But there is 1 statement of yours I'd rather not read too much into - "we are never to think of ourselves as being indispensable to God's Kingdom" - I choose to see myself as "indispensable" because I'm only 'saved' through an indispensable cause and that's Jesus. God doesn't "need" us per se but it doesn't make us any less important, valuable or significant for Him to have traded Jesus for us and I know that God did not redeemed us just so that He will have worshipers in His Kingdom. ;)

PuritanReformed said...

Jan:

*sigh*. What can I say? If I defend myself, I am wrong. If I don't, I am wrong too. What do you want me to do?

fivetwosix said...

Dan dan... *hugs* Well, first of all, do realise that people don't necessarily write/comment because they are accusing you of being in the "wrong", many times they've either misinterpreted the way you've put things across, or they are just bored and want to help dig your grave. For the latter group, don't even waste your time on them, Truth will deal with them on its own. ;) For our God will fight for you. :)

For the former group that I was concerned, like how my comments were just an offering of my perspective of 'considerations' and not in any way saying you are "wrong". No part of the comment was directed at you! As it was about what I took home from the same sermon so as to clarify prospective misunderstandings. There was nothing personal, yet a personal remark was given in return, which is not necessary because fundamentally, while you may feel obliged to share your perspective based on your wealth of knowledge and understanding of His Word, yet ultimately only the Holy Spirit can convict them of the Truth and open their eyes to the lies one has been deceived.

Consequently, it becomes uncalled for to put the other party down (but because I know you, so I might know that it is out of your brethren love that you would like to encourage me to study the Word on my own accord but) by the way it was untactfully put across to me would so easily make me miss your good intention and just hear the judgment. It shuts down any form of dialogue and learning there and then and turned it into a slandering session, denying the truth of Proverbs 27:17.

Knowing the Truth but not being able to communicate them effectively looks like this: Imagine you want to make a cup of fresh apple juice for your friend with the fresh apple you have. But unknowingly, you use a broken juice mixer that overblends the apple until it becomes tasteless, but because you're unaware of the malfunction, you still serve up the horrible tasting juice to your friend. When your friend receives the juice, he gets turned off by the bland taste and thinks you must have used a rotten apple and wanted to make him something bad.

That's how miscommunication looks like. So nobody is at fault per se... it's the juice blender's fault! But sadly the juice blender is a non-living thing and will not talk or take responsibility. So the owner of the juice will have to take ownership+responsibility, why? Because he was the one who wanted to make the fresh apple juice in first place, and only he knows about the existence of the fresh apple! So don't let a broken blender stop your audience from tasting the goodness of a fresh apple. :)

PuritanReformed said...

Hmmm.... I see. That last part was focused on you because I know you; I wouldn't post that to just about anyone else. I am concerned over your continuing at CHC, but yea, maybe I should learn more tact.

fivetwosix said...

Thanks for your concern. :) I appreciate it, really. At the moment, I believe in my ability to discern and I'm grateful for your encouragement to feed on the Word regularly. Will keep you in the loop. :)