Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Update to my testimony, plus a short autobiography

I have recently just updated my testimony page, which comes together with a short autobiography, here. The former testimonies were deleted, as they were misintepreted by some people in the past.

Cheers,
Daniel Chew.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reflections: Listening to people...

Regarding the previous blog article here, I was just thinking and reflecting over my experiences in this particular department.

The dark period in my life which found its icon in the Purpose Driven movement (April 2004 - December 2005) was also the period whereby God transform and change me through the refining fire. During this period, there were a couple of instances of people whereby they have tried to show me something which was biblical and relevant to the issues I was facing at that particular time but I didn't take it to heart and dismiss them. I would like to share why I have reacted this way then and lessons I have learned, especially with regards to the issues raised in the previous blog article.

During that period, there were a few people who gave me good, biblical advice. However, there was rather a significant problem. They were on the 'bad' side, so to speak, and they had embraced all the errors that I was fighting against. For example, I had advice from a former church pastor who implicitly endorsed the sale of a Catholic booklet regarding the Passion [of the Christ by Mel Gibson] (which teaches various heresies) about how to deal with the situation. Reflecting back, some of the advice were biblical. However, because of his implicit endorsement of such a heinious act, I have rejected his advice out of hand, probably convinced that he is just trying to protect the top guy making the decision there. He can show me all the 'love' he can, but I would not and still will not spit on my Savior's face in such an act of treason by stopping my protest.

If there is one rule which describes my 'psychological responses' to such ministerial issues, it would be

"I will listen to you when I know you have the same convictions on a particular related subject as me; I don't care how much you care or how much you know until I see that you have the same convictions on a particular related subject as me."

as contrasted with:

"People will listen to you when they know you care for them; People don't care what you know until they know that you care".

Given that Christianity is based on Truth as expressed in God's Word, when it comes to issues where doctrines take a significant place, no amount of 'love', 'care' and 'concern' would change my conviction. When it comes down to listening to people's advice, however, their position as an enemy gave me less reason to consider their advice seriously, admittedly since some of their could be worked out as compromise or defeat, which given the fact that they were given by such compromised and defeated people seems to give them little moral authority. Some illustrations from real and imagined scenarios to show how people with different beliefs could very well have their advice possibly ignored are:

Scenario: X is a person in the ministry who doesn't state his position. During a series of group emails, certain things critical of the pastor's action were sent by Z. Pastor was not informed then yet.
X says: You should inform the pastor first, not go through group email.
Interpretation: Lacking any acknowledgement of the pastor's fault, or about the error in the actions, this translates into 'you are wrong, period'. While it is true that the action taken through sending the group emails was wrong, the pastor WAS in fact in error. Thus, X's moral authority is non-existent. Now, if X has just said that he acknowledged that the pastor was definitely wrong, and said that Z was wrong in his actions, that would make him listen.

Scenario: Y is an ecumenical minded person who have no problems calling Roman Catholics and Eastern, Greek and Russian Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ, and also think they are going to heaven. In fact, she believes that sincere seekers in other religions could also be saved (inclusivism). One day, she and her Roman Catholic friend T heard a pastor friend W preached that Roman Catholicism is a false religion that damn its followers to hell and told her friend T to convert or go to hell.
Y says: You horrible bigot! Please show some love for our sister T.
Interpretation: Lacking any acknowledgement that T is indeed going to hell if she truly believes in the heresy of Roman Catholicism, Y's advice to W to be more loving translates into "She is going to heaven. You're wrong". While it is indeed true that it is not loving to point the finger and personally condemn a person to hell unless that person repents, the fact that Y personally believes in a false gospel gave her no moral authority and spiritial high ground, thus her advice sounds hollow.

Therefore, in my position, sharing the same convictions would made me listen more to the person. For example (just an example), in order to have a more fufilling prayer life. I would rather listen to the advice of a person who believes that prayer is communication with God and doesn't change God's will at all, then to follow the same advice from a person who believes that prayer changes God's will.

With regards to lessons learnt, I know that it is not easy to listen to advice from 'enemies' and weigh it according to Scriptures. I can not say that I have been able to do so but I will try to do it next time.

"People will listen to you when they know you care for them"

Mirror Site: http://www.angelfire.con/falcon/ddd_chc82/theology/ministrythots.html

"People will listen to you when they know you care for them". Corollary: "People don't care what you know until they know that you care".

It seems to me that these two statements have often been used in various kinds of settings, including that of ministry. I would just like to analyze these two statements here.

These two statements, of course, are statements regarding the psychological makeup of Man in general. It concentrates on how people most probably react when interacting with others. Scripture does not explicitly says anything about this subject matter, with Scripture only telling us to speak the truth in love (In Eph. 4:15 explicitly and others more implicitly). It does not tell us the psychological responses of the people if this is or isn't followed, which is what these two statements tries to do.

First of all, I would first like to say that as a Christian, I hold to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone. This may seem to be a trivial thing to note, but as experience have shown to me, there are Christians out there who seem to compartmentalize their knowledge and thus accept Psychology uncritically, even not bringing Scripture to bear on this discipline. Indeed, there may be Christians out there who subconsciously accept Psychology even as the 67th book of the Bible. This is not only unbiblical, it is a sin against the LORD God as revealed in His Word, who is incarnated as the Lord Jesus Christ. For such people, I sincerely urge you to repent and return to God as revealed in His Word.

Back to the issue at hand, we can see that Scripture does not tell us the psychological responses of people when they are told the truth, whether it is told in love or not. Given that Scripture just maintain that we are to speak the truth in love (which I am currently doing a blog series on), the seemingly correct thing to do would just be to ignore the issue altogether and just do what Christ asked us to do. However, depending on how one understand these two statements, there may be further implications which are unbiblical.

These two statements could be said to mean from its surface level generic reading that a person tend to listen better to another person who cares about him/her than from a person who doesn't, and that most people tend not to listen to you unless they know that you care for them. Such an understanding would thus seem to be correct, as we can see from our daily experiences. If that is all these statements mean, then the statements would be correct, at least from our generic experiences.

However, a deeper look into these statements do not suggest that this is all there is in the statements. The statements are by necessity man-centered since they are trying to describe Man's psychology. This may well be good for application in more secular-minded areas, but it will encounter problems when people often try to apply it in Christian contexts. In such contexts, such anthropocentrism could well have a chilling influence in the way for example ministry is done. What I mean by this is that such statements could lead to people in the ministry placing undue emphasis on loving people and "accepting them just as they are", at the expense of proclaiming the Truth to them out of fear that they might be offended. This is especially so since the sentences seem to suggest that Man may be more well disposed to listen to you if you care for them whereas the Gospel itself is an offence to the natural Man (1 Cor. 2:14) and thus it make little difference salvifically with regards to the Gospel unless the Holy Spirit regenerates the heart of the unbeliever. Such a scenario may not oftentimes be the case, but it is a potential problem nonetheless. When coupled with an Arminian (or even Pelagian) outlook on salvation and the nature of Man, the risk increases manifold as all variants of Arminianism and Pelagianism essentially deny in part or the whole the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. Therefore, consistent adherents of these heresies would dispute the interpretation and application of 1 Cor. 2:14 and in fact the entire passage of 1 Cor. 1:18 - 2:14, believing that Man plays a pivotal role in salvation, though it may be very minor as in Arminianism or the most important role as in Pelagianism. This would leave them wide open to such an undue emphasis, if it haven't entered already, which would result in all sorts of nonsense like the Seeker-sensitive movement and the Purpose Driven movement, or the generic symptom known as amusing the goats.

From the passage of 1 Cor. 1:18 - 2:14, it can already be seen that it is not necessary nor sufficient that caring for people would result in people wanting to know what you know or even be predisposed to such. This by itself should bring a lot of these nonsense entertainment that is going around so-called Evangelicalism to a stop. That it doesn't do so speaks volume of the fidelity of Evangelicalism as a movement to God as revealed in His Word.

Back to the issue of these two statements, I think that these two statements are genuinely well-meaning. However, due to their inherent anthropocentrism, they should not be used in Christian settings. Perhaps a biblical focus on speaking the truth in love BECAUSE of God's decree and love for us instead of the perceived pragmatic benefits/ disadvantages that may occur would be much better by far.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Singaporean church that warns against Purpose Driven

For those of you did not know it yet, I am considering making Covenent Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) my new home church, after about 4 months of searching around for a church which is truly Reformed and honors God in the preaching of His Word. Anyway, just an article from the church website on to the Purpose Driven Life, here.

PS: No prizes for wondering if their view on the Purpose Driven Life played any part in influencing my probable decision to join it.

YES!! Denomination pass resolution against Purpose Driven Paradigm

YES!!

The Bible Presbyterian Church Synod has recently passed a resolution rejecting the Purpose Driven paradigm and calling on Rick Warren to repent. I am absolutely delighted. Now, if just more churches and denominations would follow their lead...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On speaking the truth in love (part 2)

... so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph. 4:14-16)

Coming back to the topic of speaking the truth in love, which I have just mentioned a while back, I would like to explore this topic further here, though I freely acknowledge I neither know everything about the subject nor am I known to practice this very well. I will just like to explore what the Bible says about this topic, which is so pertinent to many of us today, as it was and always will be. In this instalment, I would just like to touch on the purposes of speaking the truth in love.

The expression 'speaking the truth in love' is found in Eph. 4:15. For this passage, in the immediate context, we can see that the purposes of speaking the truth in love is to be:

  • Firm in the faith (v. 14)
  • Build up and grown up in Christ (v. 15)
  • Growing in the community of believers (v. 16a '...whole body, joined and held together...')
  • Equipped for service unto the Lord (v. 16b '...from which it is equipped...')
  • Serving our Lord properly (v. 16b '...each part is working properly...')
  • Grow in love for our Lord and for the communion of saints (v. 16ff '... it builds itself up in love.')
  • In the next instalment of this series, I woud like to look more detail into these few points.

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    As if the Purpose Driven nightmare wasn't bad enough...

    As if promoting the Purpose Driven hetero-orthodox, unbiblical teacings wasn't bad enough, Rick Warren and Saddleback church have to promote wordly events, in the SANCTUARY, no less!! (See Saddleback Church — Singles Dance). I agree with Ingrid Schlueter over her giving of the Hall of Sahme award to Sadleback for such despicable conduct. Rick Warren, shame on you! Repent or God's wrath and judgment will pour on you one day. Woe to those who turn the church of God into an carnal, entertainment center! For there is no fear of God in their eyes. (Rom. 3:18)

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Dealing with those people who resist...

    (Reflections on the article by Berit Kjos entitled Spirit-led or Purpose Driven: Part 4 Dealing with resisters)

    "When a human body is out of balance we call that disease.... Likewise, when the body of Christ becomes unbalanced, disease occurs.... Health will occur only when everything is brought back into balance. The task of church leadership is to discover and remove growth-restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur." [Rick Warren, 1995, The Purpose Driven Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan]

    "We’ve come across numerous references in the Purpose-Driven literature to a concept called 'abandonment.' It is a Peter Drucker concept that has to do with businesses abandoning parts of their business that don’t make money. In the private sector (churches) it translates into churches abandoning projects that don’t produce pre-defined 'results' (the measurable kind, 'outcomes,' etc.). This also means abandoning people who don’t go along with the flow — the 'laggards' who won’t participate in the transformation. A church split is seen as a good thing, in that it gets rid of those people who are blocking progress towards church restructuring." [Lynn D. Leslie et. al., 2004,The Pied Pipers of Purpose, Conscience Press, Ravanna, Ohio]

    What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the noutains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
    Matthew 18:12-13

    I am rather sick of mentioning Rick Warre again, as I am sure those of us who research on his books and his actions are. However, the whole idea of dealing with resisters in churches or ministry as surfaced recently for me. It is thus that I would by necessity mention Rick Warren again.

    Berit Kjos, while reviewing the Purpose Driven phenomenon, has unearthed the diabolical way in which Rick Warren and company deal with 'resisters' who resist the ministry's direction, thus 'impeding the progress of the church'. As can be seen from the quotes provided above, as well as the rest of the main article by Berit Kjos, those who resist are often marginalized and even thrown out of the church.

    Therefore, in ministry, how does Scripture mandate we function when we come across people who resist the ministry's or church's focus? From my research into the Purpose Driven phenomenon, I am definitely adverse to using the same management techniques that Rick Warren uses. One of the things which the Holy Spirit has taught me through this time of testing, which occurred partly due to my former church embracing the Purpose Driven phenomenon, is the value of each individual believer in Christ. As in the parable of the lost sheep in Mt. 18:12-13, each individual believer is to be loved, treasured and cared for by the undershepherds. Thus, I reject on biblical grounds Warren's idea of removing the 'resisters' to the church's or ministry's vision.

    Since this is the case, how then should we go about fulfilling the vision that God has given us? In the case of a person's enemies, he should pray to the Lord (Prov. 16:7) and the Lord will make him have peace with him. However, in the case of people who just don't have the vision but are actively serving God in other areas, we should not force what we believe is the church's or ministry's vision on them. We can share with them, but it is God alone who will convict them if He so wishes. In fact, if the vision is really from God, God will do all the necessary work so that you do not have to fight everyone in order to accomplish what the Lord has tell you to do. With regards to ministry, we can characterize people according to whether they have the similar vision as us in order to ask them to work alonside us, but never to condemn nor to remove those who 'resist' the vision; it should be optional for them.

    Musings: Elitist theological snobbery in the church?

    My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are not they the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

    James 2:1-7 (ESV)

    With regards to the issues I have shared here, and with more developments happening over time, I seem to smell just a tiny bit of elitism on the part of pastors and full-time ministry staff in the people I am interacting with. As with Pastor X, there seems to be just a tinge of elitism in which there is a sense in which he looks down on the lay people; that is, those who dare disagree with him on theological issues. After all, who is this Daniel Chew? No official theological training, full-time minstry experience and definitely no large title (e.g. Rev. so-and-so from this large, sucessful church)

    If what I have felt is true, then the Church is truly in dire straits. In this passage of James, James is preaching against favoritism in the church, i.e. disciminations based on the poor and rich. In general, James is preaching against ALL types of disciminations. When it comes to theological issues, Scripture is equally clear that those who disagree with the pastor or Christian worker, if they are in the wrong, be instructed gently (2 Tim. 2:25) and only when they persist in their errors then they are to be rebuked sharply (Titus 3:10). Totally absent from these two passages is the idea that people are to be treated differently according to their theological knowledge or ministry status, much less ecclesiastical titles. Since Scripture clearly prohibits discimination, all should be treated equally by the pastor/ Christian ministry worker, and they should be gentle to the person who opposes them, at least initially. Lacking in doing any of these things is disobeying Scripture.

    The reason why the Church is in dire straits is because such elitist snobbery in Christian workers and ministers would create the clergy/laity divide, if it doesn't exist yet, and will result in Christian ministers being accountable to no one but their fellow workers only. If the entire clergy apostasized, the church in which it happens is gone. Given the fact that clergy often appoint men to the clergy who share similar views to theirs, the clergy is thus easily susceptible to falling into deception. It just requires one wolf to enter into the ministry, and then, if he conceals himself carefully, he can abide his time until he himself is in charge, and then woe is the church/ Christian organization when that happens. This has happened before in church history where the liberal ministers enter into the churches (during Spurgeon's era resulting in the Downgrade controversy) and then take and destroy entire denominations when they become the majority, which resulted in the fundamentalist/ liberal split in the early 20th century.

    More personally, the problem it creates for the churches is that it shows the pride inherent in such ministers. Pride comes before a fall, as the maxim goes. Scripture says more specifically that God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6). Therefore, how will God use such ministers mightily, when they have such pride in their theological knowledge, or ecclesiastical status, or ministry experience? The answer is of course, He won't. Therein lies the one of the saddest things that comes with the existence of such ministers serving in the Body of Christ.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Issues

    I normally don't like to do this, but I will just like to share about issues regarding the recent review of the anti-Calvinism sermon which I have done. As anyone who has read my blog or read the review has known, I have done this review and have decided to post it to set the record straight with regards to Pastor X's attack on the Doctrines of Grace.

    Firstly, the reason why I have decided to keep the pastor annonymous is that it would accomplish little in the Singapore context where people in general Do NOT know how to seperate issues from people and would take such a review as an attack on the pastor in question, thus the message I have intended to convey would be lost in the emotional reactions people might have. Keep in mind that I am NOT obliged to do so. Dr. James R. White, in his Radio Free Geneva sermons on his Dividing Live broadcasts, name the people who preached sermons against Calvinism, like the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, a Southern Baptist pastor, Pst. Dany O'Guinn, Pst. Jack Graham etc. (Ref). Similarly, the Apostle Paul names people like Alexander the metalworker who did him a lot of harm (2 Tim. 4:14-15) and the Apostle John names Diotrephes (3 John 9-10), who rejects the Apostle's authority and kick out those in the church who do not follow him. The early church also condemned men such as Arius and Pelagius as heretics. Therefore, following biblical and historical precedent, I am perfectly justified if I was to name the pastor invovled. I do not do so only because I think it would stumble others.

    Secondly, I wanted to meet up with the pastor regarding his sermon to show him his errors and to make sure that I am reading him correctly. I have emailed him to request a meeting. However, it seems that, after reading my website and blog (which a friend of mine has told me), he has declined and passed judgment on me and label me as being arrogant and having a critical spirit (maybe also being a schismatic). For the record, both of these allegations are wrong. After talking with a friend of mine who is in that church, it seems that Pastor X is using his own life experiences as a filter upon which he passed his judgments. Being brought up on the effeminate Christianity which is permeating most of Christianity worldwide, it would seem that he regards any criticism of any Christian, especially pastors, as showing the person to be arrogant and having a critical spirit. He has thus probably seen my criticism of Rick Warren and other abberant 'Christian' movements and thus pass judgment on me. Sadly, such an unbiblical view of conflict within the Church is ubiquitious among most of what passes as Christianity in the world today. Discernment is sadly lacking and the neo-evangelical or pseudo-evangelical bandwagon is filled with multitude of churches today. Never mind that the single most important question of determining who is a Christian is not even answered today. As long as a person calls himself a Christian, and pays lip service to basic Christian doctrine, that person is not to be analyzed and judged even if he teaches blatent heresy (like the Word-Faith teachers, i.e. Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn etc.)

    Anyway, I am still awaiting a reply from Campus Crusade Asia - Mass Media Ltd. It has been about one week since I gave the letter to them. Chances are it is probably in the bin, as the person may well regard me as some idiot with a critical spirit who criticises Rick Warren out of jealousy or something like that, especaially since I am a nobody in the eyes of Man. It is not that I think of myself as someone important or something like that, but in the eyes of God, all are equal and to discriminate against someone just because that person doesn't have a ThD or is not a pastor, or is not some Bishop is totally unbiblical. If that is the case, then I don't think that I will receive a reply from Campus Crusade Asia - Mass Media Ltd. over this issue, and they will continue to promote the hetero-orthodox book that is the Purpose Driven® Life and the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign. Therefore, I will try to contact them further, and if they do not respond, I will write an open letter exposing them as promoters of deceiving doctrines.

    Article: Evangelical Christianity is Fighting for Its Very Life

    Jim Bublitz has posted an excerpt by Dr. John MacArthur about the state of Christianity in America in the Slice of Laodicea blog maintained by Ingrid Schlueter, here. As Singaporean Christianity is following America, we must really take heed of this warning, for what America is now, Singapore will be in a couple of years time, if God doesn't grant us revival, that is.

    Update: Review of anti-Calvinism sermon released

    The review of an anti-Calvinism sermon done by a Singaporean Anglican pastor is now available here. As this is Singapore where people generally find it difficult to seperate issues from people, I would not be revealing the church or the name or title of the pastor who preached the sermon, so that the whole review would be purely concentrated on the issues invovled, i.e. the presentation and refutation of straw man arguments against the Doctrines of Grace.

    Cheers,
    Daniel Chew.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Update: Review of anti-Calvinism sermon ready

    OK, I have just finished reviewing an anti-Calvinism sermon preached by a pastor of a reknown church in Singapore. As this is not America, I am not revealing the church nor the pastor involved, except by his last name. At the moment, I have wrote a letter to him requesting to meet up before I would post the analysis of his sermon online.

    Cheers,
    Daniel Chew.

    Update:I would not be revealing the pastor's last name after all, so that others would not be possibly stumbled.

    On speaking the truth in love (part 1)

    What is speaking the truth in love about? Regarding some articles I have posted, a friend of mine has asked whether I am condemning them and I should instead be 'loving them into the Kingdom' so to speak, while hating their sin. While I respect the advice and the motive behind it, I'm concerned whether this whole concept of 'love the sinner but hate the sin' has been brought way beyond its biblical precedent.

    Here are some articles that may help us realize what it means to speak the truth in love:

    Speaking the truth in love (part 1), (part 2) by Rev. Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries

    Also, what does Jude mean when he asks us to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints (Jude 3)? Is it only for the elite group of believers in the apologetics ministry?

    [Postscript (8th Dec 2006): The article from christianunplugged is no more there as the website is removed]

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Article: Emergent Inclusivism

    Just a link to an article by Rev. Ken Silva of Apprising ministries. The article speaks for itself, and I agree with what it says.

    Emergent Inclusivism

    Btw, for those of us who don't know what the emergent/emerging church is, in simple words, it is postmodern Christianity. Granted that there is wide variation in various of these churches, what they do have in common is the denigration of doctrine and skepticism about absolute truth, if not outright denial. An example of an emerging church in Singapore is the Free Community Church, an openly gay lifestyle endorsing church (See http://www.singapore-window.org/sw05/050730ap.htm) where gay members live in open sin. One truly wonders whether they are truly saved, as Jesus says that by their fruit you will know them(Mt. 7:20), thus their sinful lifestyle seems to show forth an unregenerate heart.

    Things to do for the New Year

    Well,

    The New Year has just recently passed. I don't really like New Year resolutions as the whole thing is just sort of arbitary, but of course it is just a way for us to count time and the resolutions are to help us to strive towards some goal. For me, the only resolution to make is to continue to grow in Christ and to mature in Christ-likeness in every aspect — spiritual, intellectual, emotional, relational etc. Also, in the short term, to finish up this whole unfinished business regarding Warren's Purpose Driven Life. (If I hear his name again, I may just well gag)

    Finally, for things to do for this New Year, my next target will be Dan Brown and his nonsense which is coming to the screen this May (Yep, the Da Vinci Code). I have never heard a person sprout so much nonsense in one novel before. Anyway, Lord willing, that will be my main focus for the next half year or so.

    Even more immediately, I will be reviewing an anti-Calvinist sermon by a Singapore pastor. I have only thus far heard others do this on American pastors but I have never expected myself to hear and do the same. Hmm.... how events come and go. Lord willing, I would finish it before the end of this week, before school officially starts.

    Cheers,
    Daniel Chew.