Monday, May 14, 2012

Apostasy of a pentecostal church

A Pentecostal church in Singapore, World Revival Prayer Fellowship, had conducted contemplative prayer services this year. I am personally not surprised that churches in Singapore have started to apostatized even from shallow evangelicalism, even as their counterparts in America has been doing, but it is saddening.

The Gospel message is a message about God outside of us (extra nos). It is a Gospel of God for us (pro nobis). The Gospel message is all about Christ doing His work and imputing to us His merit unto justification. Over and against the medieval piety of imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ), the Reformation recovered the truth that we are righteous because God imputes us to be righteous, not because Christ make us just through infusing His life into us. Our righteousness is an alien righteousness (iustitia aliena). We are not actually righteous but Christ died for and justifies the ungodly, not the righteous (Rom. 4:5).

Christians therefore have fellowship with God through our union with Christ, which we have subjectively when Christ imputes to us His righteousness through faith. Our union with Christ is simple and mediated by His Word alone (Heb. 1:1-2), as the Holy Spirit breathes out the very Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16), and mediates to us Christ's presence through that Word; the ensarkos logos (en-fleshed Word- Jesus Christ) expressed in the enscripturated logos.

Reversion to contemplative spirituality (which is a Neo-Platonic movement within eastern Christianity starting especially with the Desert Fathers, and not an apostolic practice) is unbiblical on so many fronts. First of all, it undermines the sufficiency of Scripture, which is supposed to make us competent (ἄρτιος ) unto every good work. Secondly, by re-directing people from the Word into mystical experiences, it redirects people away from Christ as Christ has ordained Himself to be revealed only through His Word. Thirdly, by using practices that are not commanded in Scripture, it violates the Regulative Principle of Worship and it is will-worship (c.f. Lev. 10:1-2) that God rejects. Fourthly, by drawing on the elements of sight and sound (or silence), it is a movement towards the type of worship that is seen in the Mosaic Covenant, and it is just as obsolete (Heb. 8:13). Lastly, contemplative mysticism as a Neo-Platonic exercise is all about increasing one's being, of climbing the ladder towards God who has the most being. It violates the Creator-creature distinction, and as an introspective exercise causes one to look into one's soul instead of looking externally to Christ in His Word.

The apostasy of the churches continue. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

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