Saturday, March 05, 2016

Michael Brown and Reviewing the Hyper-Grace movement

The charismatic apologist Dr. Micheal Brown has written a book in 2014 entitled Hyper Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message. In this book, Brown attempted to sound an alarm against a movement within charismatic circles that promotes a certain view of grace that he believes leads to licentiousness. For others looking in, parallels might be drawn between this and the older Lordship controversy between John MacArthur and the anti-Lordship movement by people like Zane Hodges (a mostly intra-Dispensational controversy), or the glowing embers of controversy around the radical grace movement between people like Kevin DeYoung and Mark Jones on the one hand, and mainly Tullian Tchividjian on the other (an intra-Reformed controversy), which died down somewhat after Tchividjian's disgrace and removal from ministry due to his sin of adultery. Having read up quite a bit on the Lordship controversy, and having some familiarity with the more recent controversy over Tullian's views, I certainly think there are points of similarity the hyper-grace controversy have with the other two controversies, but I do not think they are so similar such that one can take the "grace" position or its opposite across the board. It is fully possible that the biblical position might be to side with the Lordship position in the Lordship controversy, and yet to side with Tullian Tchividjian in the radical grace controversy. Each position in each controversy must be examined independently on its own merits, without conflating the controversies such that one side must be the default just because its analogue in another controversy is the biblical position.

It is on this note that I wish to review Dr. Michael Brown's book on the topic. I would love to also review a book written from who I think to be the main source of the Hyper-Grace movement, Joseph Prince, but that would have to be for another time.

Concerning the history of this movement, I have lost touch with the happenings within the charismatic movement so unfortunately I do not have a clear picture of the relationship between Joseph Prince and the various other preachers accused by Dr. Brown of being proponents of "Hyper-Grace." What I do know however is that most of the material by the other hyper-grace proponents cited by Dr. Brown are quite recent— all 2007 and after. As someone from Singapore, I do know Prince has been promoting the hyper-grace message as early or even earlier than 2000. Basically, there were murmurs about his teaching on grace already back then when New Creation was starting to become famous/infamous as it grew to become a mega-church. While I cannot say this with absolute certainty, I suspect that Prince was the original hyper-grace preacher, and he spread the movement through his various talks and conferences around the world, as well as his "outreach" through having branches of his own ministry abroad in place like America, where he has his own very religious TV channel appropriately named "Destined to Reign." In this light, it would be really interesting if someone would actually research and do a write up on the evolution of this movement, as well as the relationships Prince have with its other proponents like John Crowder, Rob Rufus and Clark Whitten.

The hyper-grace controversy began with certain preachers like Joseph Prince proclaiming what they believe to be the true Christian message of grace that had been obscured in the modern church. According to Prince, he received a new revelation directly from God to preach "grace," and his ministry has never been the same again [Joseph Prince, Destined to Reign: The secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living (Singapore: 22 Media, 2007), 272]. Dr. Brown's book is probably the first written blast against the movement that has metastasized within charismatic circles. Since Charismatism has never been known for great scholarship in general, I doubt there would be a flurry of books dealing with the controversy, as opposed to the number of books already written over a short time span between Tullian Tchividjian, Mark Jones and Kevin Deyoung. Rather, the hyper grace controversy would probably be fought over in informal settings like blogs, and we would have few books on the topic.

[to be continued]

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