Thursday, November 05, 2015

On the Kong Hee saga

The Kong Hee trial, where Hee and 5 others were charged with criminal breach of trust and financial mismanagement, has came up with a guilty verdict for all of the 6 accused, with sentencing due later. Many professing Christians especially City Harvest Church (CHC) members defend Kong Hee and see the entire affair as persecution, while those especially who have been critical of Hee have generally piled on the criticism.

This entire affair to the outside world leaves a black mark on Christianity (since City Harvest is seen as a Christian church and Kong Hee as a Christian pastor). While I have been critical of Kong Hee (and still am), the fact that to the outside world Christianity gets tarred is sad. I would very much prefer not to comment on this fiasco if I do not have to. Objectively, it cannot be denied that City Harvest accounts were not done properly, so that the prosecution has a legitimate case against City Harvest on this technical matter. At the same time, while I disagree with the Crossover Project, what City Harvest wants to do with its own money is its own business, as long as the members approve. The government does not have a right to tell any private organization how to spend its own money as long as its members agree, just as it is none of the government's business if I decide to spend my personal money on expensive items or not.

As I have said, I would prefer not to comment on this sad saga, until I read this "theological reflection" article, which has as much theology in it as a generic Singapore Evangelical church bulletin. Unfortunately, such shallow drivel is considered "theological reflection" in today's world. Worse still, it promotes false teachings, and thus its errors need to be shown.

The first error is the author's airbrushing of prosperity theology. The idea that one holds to either a prosperity theology or a "poverty theology" is absolute nonsense from the pits of hell, promoted by the prosperity heretics themselves to try to deceive people into believing a prosperity theology. The author has bought this lie as a matter of first principle, and then attempt the Hegelian dialectic to create his third option, seeing "merits on both sides of the equation." Thus, we see the treating of "prosperity" and "poverty" as being two opposing options and then he laid out his third option.

As opposed to such deception, the Scriptures only condemns the love of money without focusing too much on the topic. Unlike us, the Scriptures are not fixated on money; it neither extolls prosperity or poverty. It does not promote lust of money such that one loves prosperity, neither does it see money as ontologically evil and thus to be avoided at all costs. Money in Scripture is to be a mere tool of exchange.

The author here correctly points out the problems with appealing to Jesus or the patriarchs. He correctly appeals to Matthew 6:24 against the prosperity gospel. He also states the problem with associating outward success with blessing. All of these are right and true, yet we see here no denunciation of the false gospel of the prosperity message, but rather the Hegelian process at work. What is the use of offering some correct insights while claiming that there is good in the prosperity gospel? Does it bother him even, or maybe he does not believe it, that the prosperity gospel has brought desolation to millions in this life and, in the next, brought them to hell, alongside heretics such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar and so on? The prosperity nonsense normally comes alongside the Word-faith heresy, since it is through speaking words of power (faith) that one can create one's better life into being. In any address of the prosperity heresy therefore, there should be a knowledge of the Word-faith nonsense behind it. In Kong Hee's case, one should probably also be informed of the new syncretized version called Dominion Theology promoted by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), but I guess that's asking too much from his article.

The author's second point focuses on saying that the means do not justify the end. This is of course true. At the same time, the Crossover Project is a moral issue, not a legal issue. As I have said, any private organization should have the liberty to spend its money however it pleases if its members agree to do so. The author seem to think that the Crossover Project is in itself a violation of the law of the land, which is false. It is the round-tripping and financial irregularities that are the problems, for this is (still) a (relatively) free country, and there should not be anything wrong with the project per se. Now, I think that the whole project is morally bankrupt (see Sun Ho's "China Wine" video if you want to know why), but legally there shouldn't be any reasons why an organization can't spend its money that way.

The author says that one should not "compromise the gospel in order to share the gospel." That is true, but what is the Gospel? After all, the author has "irenically" told us there is good in the prosperity gospel. The author accepts the rationale of good works done by CHC, and just contend that all the good does not excuse one from breaking the law. While that is true, yet is the problem with CHC just that they broke the law while doing good? Again, what exactly is the Gospel? That we should be good citizens doing good works? We are not told.

All of these criticisms so far are just the problems with what the author has said. But what is even more disturbing is the author's unspoken assumptions concerning CHC. To me, CHC is not a legitimate Christian church. There are professing Christians inside, and maybe some true ones, but it's none of my business to judge their personal salvation. Rather, the focus is on the nature of CHC as a Christian church, and it is not one. CHC has promoted heresy and it has promoted false teachers like Benny Hinn (e.g 13-15 Apr 2007). As an independent church, it has no accountability and it shows. With regards to the ordering of the church, who exactly ordained Kong Hee and was he legitimately ordained? But back to the issue of the Gospel, what exactly is the "Gospel" in CHC? If its sermons and conferences are anything to go by, it is a syncretized Word-faith NAR perversion of the Gospel, and THAT is the elephant in the room which the author does not touch, and which makes CHC a false church.

The main problem with CHC is not some cosmetic issues with their financial mis-accounting. Neither is it with their promotion of prosperity per se. But the problem goes deeper to the essence of Christianity, the Gospel. CHC has lost the Gospel, and that should be the main issue of criticism. It has lost the Gospel, and therefore it has adopted the Word Faith and NAR nonsense. It has lost the Gospel, which is why godliness to them look the same as worldliness. It has lost the Gospel, which is why they don't have a problem with the ends justifying the means. It has lost the Gospel, which is why Sun Ho can behave so scandalously and dress so lewdly on MTV. It has lost the Gospel, which is why her members behave like they worship Kong Hee, because they do.

Kong Hee has sadly remained unrepentant, but his main issue is not with the government, but with God Himself. Until he repents of his heresy, there will be a greater Judge who will be against him, and nothing he does then will avail him any good.

32 comments:

aaronho1974 said...

Dear brother Daniel (I assume I can call you that? :D),

First of all, thanks for interacting with my blog post. You probably don't see it this way, but I feel like at least doctrinally/theologically, we are very much on the same page. It seems to me that the main concern you have is the preaching of the prosperity gospel which is no gospel at all. John Piper's succinct critique of the prosperity gospel is as good a summary of what I believe about this issue. And so, I have the same concern, which prompted me to write the post at all.

Now, you will have to forgive me that I'm not as erudite in theological knowledge as you. I'm quite sure my understanding of the gospel is pretty superficial compared with you. But I am in the process of learning. So, I am not going to defend my blog post because I'm pretty sure your critique of it has merit.

At the same time, my opinion is the approaches you and I have taken may be different even though perhaps the intent is the same: namely to defend the gospel, to correct errors. I have many friends, and students whom I minister to in the school chaplaincy context, who are from CHC. I took the approach that I did in the hopes that they would at least consider what I had to say rather than becoming instantaneously defensive.

Also, because I posted the link on Facebook, my main target audience was them (my friends, the students). Never in my wildest imagination did I expect the post to gather as many views as it did. I did not mean for my post to be read in such a wide context - therefore, it was meant more as a personal appeal rather than an official theological/Christian response to the affair.

Was my approach wrong? I really don't know. I respect if you feel as if what I wrote was drivel. But what I was trying to do was to strike a balance between coming across as absolutely condemning (as if there was no possibility of redemption) and absolutely supporting (as if there was no possibility of judgment), with the intent that my friends/students would at least examine their theological presuppositions.

Once again, thanks for posting your thoughts. I definitely have gained something from reading the post, namely to be even more sharp in thinking through the issues at hand. God bless you!

PuritanReformed said...

Hi Aaron,

thanks for the background to your post. My issue has not been your heart, but rather what was said. Yes, it is not easy trying to reach out to CHC youth or Kong Hee defenders, and some tact is always necessary. That partially explains how you have gone about your article.

That said, there is a way to be firm without being harsh, and you are conceding too much. You should have addressed the false dichotomy from the prosperity proponents at its root. And that is one example of the main irritant I see in your article: It treats only the surface symptoms. Is it only this Crossover project that is the problem? What is the Gospel, in relation to the message of CHC and KH? That is the core issue. In my opinion, you did not go to the heart of the problem with CHC and KH, which did not spring up overnight, as if the current scandal is an anomaly instead of the tip of the iceberg over what is wrong with CHC.

I said it was "drivel" because you claimed it was "theological reflections." It is your personal reflections, but calling them "theological" when they treat the issues superficially is why I used that term to describe the article. It was not meant as an insult, and I apologize if it seemed that way.

No strong Christian would ever be in CHC, and that is because they have grown strong on the foundation of God's Word and the Gospel of salvation. You want to reach out to CHC and KH defenders, then address the issues of sin and the Gospel, in its fullness. Then move on to issues concerning the Church especially with regards to the ordering of the Church, on right worship of God, on the right functioning of spiritual gifts, and then issues of Christ and culture. Those who learn properly from God's Word will never be enamored of CHC and KH.

Gregory S. Gill said...

>"The government does not have a right to tell any private organization how to spend its own money as long as its members agree, just as it is none of the government's business if I decide to spend my personal money on expensive items or not."

Says who? What standard are you using to justify that statement of yours?

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

I'll ask you: Would you want the government to tell you how you ought to spend your money, and if you don't spend your money in the exact way the government dictates you do so, the government will throw you in jail?

If you think that is an acceptable way for government to manage your finances, then get back to me. Otherwise, your comment does not warrant a response.

Jenson Lim said...

"The government does not have a right to tell any private organization how to spend its own money as long as its members agree, just as it is none of the government's business if I decide to spend my personal money on expensive items or not."

I think you will find that this is not entirely true. Not sure with American and Singaporean churches, but here in the UK, churches that register as charities will have their accounts scrutised. But even as individuals we have some limited accountability to the government with our finances which is why bankruptcy is (was?) a crime. And there used to be debtors jail. My 5p. ☺

Gregory S. Gill said...

@PuritanReformed...Apparently you missed the point. I as a theonomist I can say that yes government ought not to do such things because I hold all governments by the bible as their standard by which I judge them all. And the bible forbids them from doing such. You on the other hand reject holding governments by the standard of the bible so hence my question to you, says who? What standard are you using to justify that statement of yours?

PuritanReformed said...

@Jenson,

Well, churches in some countries could have their finances scrutinized, but that ought not be the case. As far as I know, it's not done in US unless there is suspicion of fraud.

As for bankuptcy, the crime is owing people money, not misusing money per se.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

You err in believing that only Theonomy believes in biblical standards. We just do not believe the OT civil law in "exhaustive detail"

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

You err in believing that only Theonomy believes in biblical standards. We just do not believe the OT civil law in "exhaustive detail"

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

You err in believing that only Theonomy believes in biblical standards. We just do not believe the OT civil law in "exhaustive detail"

Gregory S. Gill said...

If you believe in biblical standards for government then to that degree that you believe in biblical standards for government you're a Theonomist, may you might be a Theonomist lite but you're still a Theonomist if you believe in biblical standards for government.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

that is not the definition of a theonomist. Bahnsen defined the theonomist position as the "abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail."

Jenson Lim said...

Worshipping amongst the Presbyterians in Scotland, I still meet the occasional theonomist. Grand idea, but highly impractical, hardly Biblical.

Gregory S. Gill said...

@PuritanReformed...The question is what is meant by "abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail." While I'm at this moment not too sure what it meant I'm very sure of what it didn't mean. It didn't mean all of the Old Testament judicial laws still applies today. Because those that apply to ceremonial laws are not for today. Bahnsen held to that view. Bahnsen believed if an OT law was not changed or modified by the NT it was still for today. He believed some of the OT laws were for today and some weren't. What all theonomists believe is that the bible is the standard for government though theonomists holds it to varying degrees. That's why once a person holds to the bible as the standard for government they are a theonomist to that degree. Bahnsen's words may have been a unfortunate choice of words leading many to misinterpret him.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

go read Bahnsen then. Bahnsen only exempts the ceremonial laws, but he upholds the civil laws of Israel as well.

Gregory S. Gill said...

>"go read Bahnsen then. Bahnsen only exempts the ceremonial laws, but he upholds the civil laws of Israel as well."

I also do the same as well. That should be very plain from my pass posts. How can one hold government by the standard of the bible and at the same time to no degree at all whatsoever uphold the civil laws of Israel? I'm yet to see that happen.

Gregory S. Gill said...

Remember even God's moral laws were part of Israel's civil laws.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

1) God's moral law is part of the moral law, not part of Israel's civil law
2) If you refuse to see that there are other ways for biblical principles to be valid than the literalist approach of treating all nations like Israel, then I have nothing else to say. I hope you are consistent and advocate for the death penalty for heresy, by stoning.

Gregory S. Gill said...

>" I hope you are consistent and advocate for the death penalty for heresy, by stoning."

Yes I am for that. It was also civilly wrong to disobey God's moral laws in Israel that why you had civil penalties attached to most of them. At least those moral laws that had civil penalties attached to them how could they not logically be considered civil laws in Israel as well?

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

I don't even know whether you are trying to be serious, because that is utterly inane.

Just in case you really are serious, the ceremonial laws ALSO have civil penalties attached to them as well, but that does not make them part of the civil laws. If you cannot differentiate between the nature of a law and the penalties attached to the law, then nothing more can be said.

So, are you or are you not in favor of instituting the death penalties for heretics, including all Oneness Pentecostals (who deny the Trinity)?

Gregory S. Gill said...

>"So, are you or are you not in favor of instituting the death penalties for heretics, including all Oneness Pentecostals (who deny the Trinity)?"

Yes I am to the fullest degree. And after been found guilty in a proper biblical trial of two or three witnesses I myself have no problem in throwing stones at them to kill them.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

wow. You might want to read up on the 30 years' war. But there is nothing more to say to one who rejects the traditional Reformed categories of law.

Jenson Lim said...


"Yes I am to the fullest degree. And after been found guilty in a proper biblical trial of two or three witnesses I myself have no problem in throwing stones at them to kill them."

Is this the modern day understanding of theonomy? That's chilling. Even the theonomists that I have met do not advocate that.

Gregory S. Gill said...

Belgic Confession
ARTICLE 36
The Magistracy

We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well.

Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also that they protect the sacred ministry, and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship, that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.

Westminster Confession:
CHAPTER XXIII.
Of the Civil Magistrate.

I. God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.

II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.

III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

Gregory S. Gill said...

"Amendment 1 has conditioned contemporary Christians to believe that putting someone to death because they promote another god than Yahweh is abhorrent. Early American colonies, such as New Haven, Connecticut, based their government upon Yahweh’s law instead of man’s and required this very judgment for idolaters:

"Whosever shall worship any other God than the Lord shall be put to death."

http://www.missiontoisrael.org/biblelaw-constitutionalism-pt11.php#endnote34

Also remember John Calvin and many other major Reformers when written to recommended Servetus to be put to death for his heresy. Remember the Reformers including Martin Luther and John Calvin had no problem in putting heretical Anabaptists to death for their heresies. But its sad to say their had no problem in putting Christian baptists brethren to death as well which shows when we deviate from the bible we will go wrong.

Me being for putting to death heretics for the heresies puts me in the company of the Reformers and Puritans and their confessions.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

The Belgic Confession has been ammended. Regardless, if you want to be a dead traditionalist, that's your prerogative.

This kind of stupidity is what led to the 30 years' war. Your kind will be those who lead us to WW3 if you are in power.

hanguoxiong said...

Dear Gregory,

I am concerned about your imbalanced focus on theonomy and some of its extreme variants. Do take care of your spiritual life, look to the Lord Jesus Christ and be centered upon Him and His gospel.

Regards,
David

Gregory S. Gill said...

Because of the 30 years' war Calvinism prospered and increased which is the work of God. Freedom of religions always in the end leads to the persecution and oppression of true Christianity because light and darkness, God and Satan can't co-exist in harmony and peace a lesson you are yet to learn in this specific political area of life. Not only that God will in His own time and way destroy that nation that is entertaining of evil and sin, and is disobedient to His word.

"For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste." - Isaiah 60:12 English Standard Version.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." - Proverbs 14:34 English Standard Version.

The "dead traditionalist" that you disparaging speak of got it correct biblically on the treatment of heretics and I'm very glad to be in that company.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

You are living in delusion. The 30 years'war heralded the beginning of the end of Christendom, and with it the Constantinian synthesis that you love so much.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

Don't bother replying on this post anymore. I have no wish to debate with someone who refuses to listen and blatantly distorts the Word of God to promote the unbiblical Constantinian synthesis, and confuse Church and State, the secular and the sacred

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

Don't bother replying on this post anymore. I have no wish to debate with someone who refuses to listen and blatantly distorts the Word of God to promote the unbiblical Constantinian synthesis, and confuse Church and State, the secular and the sacred

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg,

You are living in delusion. The 30 years'war heralded the beginning of the end of Christendom, and with it the Constantinian synthesis that you love so much.