Saturday, June 20, 2009

Destined To Reign

This is the title of the TV program from Joseph Prince, an increasingly popular preacher. I was in BooksAMillion this week and noticed that he now has a book by the same name.

The cover says the following:

The secret to effortless success, wholeness, and victorious living.

I haven't read the book and don't plan to. I've seen the guy on TV and have a pretty good idea what he's about. The cover sentence encapsulates it pretty well.

The amazing thing is that he can sell this crap as Christianity.

Effortless success? How many times in the Bible does anyone make off with "effortless success"? Does martyrdom, torture, a pierced heart, etc. remotely resemble effortlessness? What about success? Who in the Bible did not experence failure? We know for a fact that Paul failed to convert all those preached to. We know that there were blow-ups between himself and his colleagues. Where is the effortless success?

Unless Mr. Prince is claiming to know something that the Apostles, et al, did not know. This is a good example of the emerging Gnosticism in many Protestant arenas. Whether on purpose or not, these false teachers are setting themselves up as delivering something that is nowhere in Scripture or Church history. In fact, it is an insult to every martyr that has ever died for Christ. If they would have just known Mr. Prince's take on things, they would have never had to go through all that suffering.

I'm going to skip the "wholeness" part of the above line as it's unclear exactly what he means. Considering that he preaches on TV that taking consideration of your sins is a bad thing, I'm betting he's referring to the idea that what drags people down and deprives them of peace isn't sin. It's really just thinking about sin and accepting suffering. Anyways, let's move on.

"Victorious living." For the Catholic (and many Protestants as well) the notion of victorious living is in a victorious death. I've never heard Mr. Prince mention such a thing. The fact that the book cover refers to "victorious living" instead of a "victorious life" implies that this remains his meaning. It's all about temporal satisfaction and the glory of this world and overcoming current hardship. A lot of the folks I know who converted from Protestantism have noted the decrease or utter lack of a theology of suffering. You basically have whole congregations of Job's buddies. If you are in a mess, it's your fault and God isn't going to help you until you pull a Pelagius and get your mind right.

Charles Vance was saying much the same thing last night on his show. Folks who aren't being healed are still sick because they don't know about God's message of healing. Folks who are having personal and financial difficulties or having to endure some other sort of suffering have these problems because they don't know God's message of empowerment.

In other words, the Apostles who wrote the very books that Messrs. Vance and Prince consider authoritative had no idea what they were doing. Not only did they not have the faith to avoid suffering, they were stupid enough to be happy about it.

And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus. And they dismissed them. And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.
Acts 5:40

If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven: whereof I Paul am made a minister. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church...

Colossians 1:23

What a bunch of failures. All this rejoicing in suffering (and there are more examples than just these) and not a single act of faith to escape it.

1 comment:

Chants a Lot said...

Yes, there is Gnosticism in these ideas, but I would argue that Protestantism is inherently Gnostic and that what is happening here is the logical outcome of the Protestant heresy. After all, Luther claimed to have discovered the "secret" of justification by faith, and Calvin taught that one can "know" with near infallible certainty that he is saved by the inner (read "secret") working of the Holy Spirit. And as Protestantism has developed, it has become more and more individualistic and gnostic.

Philip J. Lee saw this development and identified it with North American Protestantism when in 1987 he wrote "Against the Protestant Gnostics," the middle section of which he entitled "Gnosticism in Ascendance in North America." This is a very good book, even though Lee failed to see that Gnosticism is inherent in Protestantism and that the solution is submission to the Magisterium and entering into full union with Holy Mother Church.

Of course, Gnosticism is not the only problem I see with this Prince's teaching. Classical Protestantism saw justification as monergistic, but held that sanctification (which involved the struggle to do God's will) was synergistic. It seems that these modern-day protestants, relying on a Jesus-has-done-it-all kind of justification by faith alone, have jettisoned even the necessity of sanctification. No wonder so many bad Catholics are attracted to protestant groups that espouse these teachings. When they join them, they can just be lazy about their faith.