I am taking a short break from the Sola Scriptura series for the moment. Over the weekend in Singapore, the Charismatic movement in Singapore in the Festival of Praise (FOP) committee have organized this year's Festival of Praise event. I went for the FOP on the 5th Aug 2006 to observe the event. Here is my report of this event. An analysis of the sermon given by Rev. Ed Silvoso will be posted later.
On Saturday the 5th Aug 2006, I decided to go to the Festival of Praise (FOP) 2006 with my brother, to see what it has become. I went for the FOP a few times in my earlier years before I came to embrace the doctrines of grace, and have not gone for the event ever since then (2003). Therefore, I have decided to go for this event as an observer, noting that most of the people going there will be youths and young adults from Charismatic churches, and even some from supposedly conservative denominations. Since this is the case, they represent the direction mainstream Christianity in Singapore is heading towards. This is especially so when I came to know of some of the churches that are supporting and taking part in the event – City Harvest Church (CHC), Riverlife Church, Church of Singapore, and even CEFC (Covenant Evangelical Free Church) is at least supporting it.
I arrived just when they were about to begin, with Canon James Wong and then Pastor Kong Hee of CHC leading the people in a time of prayer for the Middle East. After some time for the next prayer items, some of the people started to pray in tongues. As if on cue, some of the pastors on stage started to pray in tongues also. As some of them have a clip-on microphone with them, some of their prayers (in tongues) could be heard softly over the microphone. After some time, Pastor Kong Hee closed with a prayer, in which he mixes a bit of his “tongue-language” into his prayer ( … "shamballah umballah" … Hey, look, I can speak ‘tongue’! ) . Now, this is a clear violation of Scripture (1 Cor. 14: 27-33), assuming that their tongues are valid in the first place, as there is no interpretation. Also, no mass speaking or praying in tongues in public is allowed.
Next, there was worship lead by Don Moen of Integrity! Music. As a more conservative Evangelical, his music was not towards the pop rock style characteristic of more modern bands like Hillsongs or Delirious?. He played some of the classic Don Moen pieces like God is good all the time and a few others which I don’t know of. During the worship, the spotlights were used to flash around, some were dimmed and other lighting effects were done so as to manipulate the atmosphere. This is against Scripture’s injunction to worship in spirit and in truth. God did not ask us to manufacture worship but to worship Him as He commanded us to. By manipulating our emotions using lighting effects, we are first of all not worshipping God in spirit, merely hyping up our emotions, but secondly we are bringing strange fire unto the Lord, which God utterly detests (Lev. 10:1-3).
Another thing which Don Moen did was during the song God is good all the time, where he started the song by singing the first verse slowly, then he asked the audience the question “Are you ready?” to which the audience responded with a resounding yes, then he restarted the song with a fast beat. This type of question and response shows once again the orchestration of the worship experience, which is similarly antithecal to true worship of our God as we are not worshipping God in spirit but only hyping up our emotions. During another song, he started to have 'instrumental worship', in which halfway through a praise song, he stopped leading worship and then one instrument after another started to perform various harmonies to ‘praise God’. Concert is the name of the game, definitely not worship. Oh, and not to mention the repetition of choruses many times (OK, not that many. I heard one Charismatic church which did it much worse) to hype up the emotions again. All of these are antithecal to true worship and are in fact expressions of carnal rebellion against God Almighty, the Lord of hosts, the Holy One of Israel, to which everyone will one day give an account of their lives and actions before Him.
After around half an hour of worship, Don Moen left the stage for the sermon by Rev. Ed Silvoso. Now, I initially didn’t know who he is, so I was just listening to see what this man of God would preach on. Sadly to say, his ‘sermon’ was one whole bunch of biblical errors, poor exegesis, logical fallacies, and even heretical notions, which I will document in my examination of his sermon soon. Anyway, after his ‘sermon’, Don Moen came back to "lead us in a time of worship", after which Pastor Kong Hee closed the event with a prayer and a benediction, after having everyone shout out the name of the company or school whatever, their “marketplace” area, as a declaration that they will be redeemed by the Lord (we shall examine this concept in the sermon). After this, anyone is welcomed to leave, while the Christian City Church band stepped on stage to lead anyone who wants to stay for "another half an hour of worship". Basically, it was totally a pop rock music concert. If Don Moen could not get worship right, I think there are no words to describe this type of abomination which masquerades as worship. Anyway, I decided to return home then.
May God have mercy on us all for this heretical teaching conducted in the name of Christ, and may he grant the people involved repentance unto eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ.
UPDATE: Some unregenerate people have thought that I am attacking all people going for the event. Those people should just go back and retake their reading comprehension exam.