Saturday, July 13, 2013

Heretic or Hero Part 2

Part 2
Every era throws new light, new revelations, new inventions and discoveries. Some of them are so radical that they challenge the very paradigm upon which the previous era rested its ethos, philosophy and world view. For instance Galileo discovered that the world was not flat but indeed round. He stirred up a might commotion in the world of science. The Industrial revolution was path breaking from the Guild System and the Master Craftsman of the day. The pioneers of that time had to endure much hardship and ridicule. Some of them even had their lives threatened and some even died being denounced as tools of Satan or heretics.
The is the concluding part of this 2 part blog. In order to read part one please click here

All this brings me to the points I was pondering upon. It’s not different today. This generation is throwing up challenges that are pushing and provoking our cognitive boundaries on some basic issues. There are many crying “foul” and that this is modern day heresy and  different preachers are being denounced for what they supposedly preach.  I am learning one thing in life i.e do not be too quick to pass judgment or start throwing stones.

Before you  throw me to the stakes as well, let me say while every generation and era has pushed the boundaries, there has always been the danger of false doctrine infiltrating the church and we need to be ever watchful and safeguard the sanctity of scripture which is infallible and eternal. We need to be careful that when we look at doctrine we view it and understand it in the context of the whole canon of scripture and not in isolation. No doctrine can be based on one isolated verse. So I am not talking about false teachings which challenge the deity of Christ, the trinity, the finished work of the Cross etc. I am referring to our understanding of things like Grace, faith, miracles, the finished work of the cross etc.

I spent time reading and listening to the preaching of some well known modern day preachers. Up to this point I only had second hand information, and reviews on the web to go by. But I felt prompted to reach and study for myself before I decided if this guy is a heretic or hero of the faith. I was stunned!  I thought I knew everything about Grace having being in Newfrontiers for 40 years ( i.e even  before it came to be known as New frontiers) and whose father is Terry Virgo the great Apostle of Grace. No disrespect here, we owe a deep debt of gratitude for Terry's faithful  teaching on Grace,  but I was beginning to realize that what one generation receives the next on build upon and takes it further. And that is how it should be and always has been. 

This man Joseph Prince blows grace wide open: it’s refreshing, liberating and an empowering message. Nowhere does he advocate that grace is  a license to sin or even therefore treat the local church casually. There is so much that he is saying that could well be out of the leaves of Terry Virgo’s book God’s Lavish Grace”.

Prince is not against working hard nor is he advocating a Christianity apart from the local church. Let me share a quote from his book “Destined to Reign” “All I have shared works most powerfully and effectively within the environment of the local church. These truths are for the greater good of the body of Christ and should never result in you becoming a law unto yourself. Beloved, I want to see you enjoying the safety of the covering of a local church where there is accountability and submission. This is where our blessings are tremendously multiplied” ( Destined to Reign- Joseph Prince, pg 306). Who can argue with this?

 You may say, but what about this and that. Does Prince have all revelation? Or for that matter do you or I? I think Prince is building on what the last generation began to open up and he has taken it further. His book is not supposed to be another manual of does and don'ts for every area of life. Our legalistic bent of of mind likes every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed.  "The law makes one self conscious. Its always asking 'what must I do? . But grace makes one Christ - conscious. It is always asking , "what has Jesus done?" (Destined to Reign- Joseph Prince, pg 33)

 Now there are always those who only hear what they want to and cherry pick in their practice and we look at them and question “is this what Joseph Prince is teaching?” .  I have been guilty of this. All I can say is those people have got the wrong end of the stick and are using the liberating doctrine of grace ( which has happened even with Terry Virgo's preaching) to rationalize their sin.There are some that accuse Prince of having a liberal view to sin.

 Allow me to quote "Licence to Sin?.. Let me begin by asking this: Have you noticed that people are already sinning without a 'license'? Allow me to make this explicitly clear in black and white so that there is not doubt I, Joseph Prince am vehemently , completely  aggressively and irrevocably AGAINST SIN!. Sin is evil. I do not condone sin. A life style of sin leads only to defeat and destruction.. Some think that it is by preaching more law. I am convicted that is is by preaching the grace of God."  (Destined to Reign- Joseph Prince, pg 30)

So who knows what the next 20 years will throw up? Unraveling the mysteries of an infinite God is never ending and God is restoring truths that got lost in the cobwebs of trying to live the Christian life by a ton of rules. We will never completely comprehend everything. No one individual has all revelation or knowledge. Even what we know is not perfect. While we have the privilege of attaining some revelation in one area of the Christian faith, we could be flawed in another. Therefore we need to walk humbly before God. 

So how do I respond?

Life is never black or white. Which of us is perfect in all things? I am learning more and more that one must not throw the baby and the bath water out. If we do this we will become very narrow and bigoted, lacking in charity, fragmented and very alone.

Augustine of Hippo said “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The great St. Paul put it so eloquently and showed us the most excellent way in  1 Cor 13 – the way of love. We can keep splitting hairs on doctrine and its application and like the Pharisees we will strain the gnat and choke on the camel! 

So these are some of the things I have been pondering upon. I am glad I read and am re reading "Destined to Reign". I could not fault what was written.It lifted my spirit, made me worship Jesus and want to know Him more. It has given me a fresh boost to know that I can live this Christian life with all its struggles , victoriously. I recommend you read it for yourself .

 I end my reflections here with these thoughts :This I know God is for me, He died for me, my debt is paid in full. I have a destiny in Him which involves the ends of the earth.  I want to love and serve him all the days of my life until my last breath. And by His extravagant grace I will do mighty exploits for Him and one day Grace will lead me home.

Now these 3 things remain – faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is LOVE.
So while I aim to have a right understanding  of scripture and live according to it let us go our ways to love and serve the Lord – the author and perfecter of our faith to whom be praise forever and ever ! Amen.

Navaz D Cruz
July 2013

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