Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Theology of Joseph Prince: A Distortion of the Law

Fr. Dale Matson
02-26-11

A book was recommended to me. I ordered and read the book “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince. I always write the most important points of a book that resonate with me on the inside cover of the book. They are as follows:
1. Unveiling Jesus
2. Preaching the Goodness of God
3. Paul’s Gospel is the Gospel of grace, forgiveness and no more condemnation.

I believe there is a point however where Prince begins to distort things to make his case for what he claims is sound teaching at odds with the traditional church. It concerns me especially since he later states that “Wrong doctrine is worse than wrong behavior” (p.258) He states that repentance is simply “changing your mind” (p.233) and has nothing to do with contrition and confession. That is not the way the church fathers have traditionally understood repentance. It concerns me that Prince is so willing to dismiss the Law and to say that mixing the Law with grace is not balancing but perverting the Gospel of Christ. For example Lutherans have traditionally understood Scripture through the lens of both Law and Gospel.

This is what Luther’s Small Catechism has to say.
“1. Do you believe that you are a sinner?
Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner.
2. How do you know this? I know from the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.
3. Are you sorry for your sins? Yes, I am sorry that I have sinned against God.
4. What have you deserved from God because of your sins? I deserve His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation. See Rom. 6:21, 23. 5.
Do you hope to be saved? Yes, that is my hope.
6. In whom then do you trust? I hope in my dear Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prince tells us to “Feed on the letters of Apostle Paul” (p.94) in order to discover the Gospel of Grace. His emphasis on this is at the expense of a proper understanding of the Law. “Commandments Kill” (p.120) St. Paul also referred to the Law as a "schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24). It would be useful for Prince to review Psalm 119 where the Law is mentioned 25 times and sounds a lot like the Gospel. Prince advocates for Grace and excludes the Law which he leaves behind on the journey of Sanctification because it is part of an obsolete covenant. “There is no more consciousness of sin” (Chapter 14) and “there is power to sin no more” (p.167) while “victorious living is effortless” (P.243) which leaves the normal Christian wondering what is wrong if his or her life is in the toilet. He talks about the “not yet” as if it were the “is now”. This is not the voice of faith. It is the voice of presupposition. His assurances create more doubts than they dissolve. It reminds me of Kenneth Hagin who took the faith of the Scriptures a bridge too far in the 1970’s. Hagin and the Faith Movement were taken to task in the book “From the Pinnacle of the Temple” by Charles Farah Jr. for similar reasons. Prince noted that he had connections to Hagin.

Finally, in his chapter on “Unearthing the deepest root", Prince claimed that the deepest root is condemnation. I would say that an even deeper root would be original sin but “wrong doctrine” is below ground somewhere around there too. I believe that attempting to elevate Grace at the expense of the Law is a disservice to both the Law and Grace.

35 comments:

Sibyl said...

Excellent post, Fr. Matson. The Law is a kindness and guide to what is good and what will harm us. In giving us His Word of Truth, God was trying to reconcile and reorient fallen humanity to Himself.

There is an article pertinent to yours at The King's English:

http://kingsenglish.info/2011/02/27/thou-shalt/

Dale Matson said...

Sibyl,
Thanks for the affirmation. I have a prior post specifically on the Law at Soundings.http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/2010/12/law.html. Joseph Prince is a gifted preacher with a huge following. I would hope that he would listen to what someone who represents the view of the traditional church would have to say. I like some of his insights but felt the need to defend the Law.

Stanley Wong said...

Is Luther's Small Catechism infallible? Is one a sinner because he broke the 10 commandments or is one already a sinner as soon as he is born into this world?

Rom 5:12 says "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned."

We are sinners, not because of any commandments we broke. We are sinners, simply because of Adam's sin.

This is confirmed in Rom 5:19 "Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous."

Dale Matson said...

Stanley,
I believe it is not a case of either or but both. I note original sin near the end of the posting and we are born with this condition. However, we are also sinners who need to repent and confess our sins. "Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working." (James 5:16)

Dale Matson said...

Additionally, I would agree with Joseph Prince that Christ took all of our sins to the cross. He took our original sin and the sins we have committed and the sins we will commit to the cross if we accept Him as Lord and Savior His righteousness will be applied to us. I believe Prince is saying however, that we no longer need to struggle with sin as in Romans Chapter seven because we have been made righteous. If we are led by the Spirit, we are no longer under the Law. (Galatians 5:18)The problem is that we are not always led by the Spirit and what do we do then? The problem is that we do still sin. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8).

Stephen said...

Hi, I came across the book and read some pages briefly. I couldn't agree with several of his teachings in the book. Thanks for analyzing them through your blog. I know people from that church who claimed that "once saved, forever saved". But I know that shouldn't be the case...

John Fazio said...

I'm sorry but I must disagree with most of what I read here. Lets not worry about offending "Church Fathers" and traditions of men. Let look at the Gospel. The cross of Jesus is the dividing line of the bible. If you believe in Jesus finished work and that his blood washes your sins... then you are the righteousness of God in Christ. There is no other way to obtain this righteousness. Not through the Law certainly or Christ would have died in vain. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:9 -- is written to unsaved Gnostic's who 1) did not believe in SIN at all. 2) were not Christians (in darkness) but were mingling with the Christians. So John tells them they must first admit they have sin and if they say they don't they are calling God a liar, and once they have sinned.. if they asked God to forgive them of their sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our SINs and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

In the very next chapter he addresses Christians and says "Little Children" and tells Christians, WE have an advocate with the Father -- JESUS -- no confession here, HE is our propitiation, he intercedes for us! Read it.

Live and believe like the cross of Jesus made a difference. Jesus fulfilled the law. You must not depend on anything but the grace of God alone for your righteousness. Read Gal Chapter 3 -- This is what they were doing. Mixture. Paul calls them bewitched and foolish because they began in the spirit and now depending on the Law because some Jewish converts convinced them they still needed to keep the law.

I was raised in the Catholic Church and so the doctrine of confession was ingrained into me but this is a man made doctrine. To use what John said to make this doctrine does not line up with the Gospel.

Read these scriptures and pray that God will show you the truth and I believe he will.

In Love,

John

Dale Matson said...

John,
"Lets not worry about offending 'Church Fathers' and traditions of men. Let[s] look at the Gospel." Your obvious disdain for the church fathers is misplaced. It was the church fathers who determined with the Holy Spirit what would later become the Canon of Scripture. It is the Sola Scriptura folks who bring us new denominations every generation and further split Christ's Church.
My biggest concern with your understanding of Christ's work is that His work is finished. That is true but I am not finished. The process of Sanctification is not something I can make a reality simply by saying that it is so. You cannot say that Christians are not also sinners any more than a Christian Scientist can say that bacteria do not exist. Sin and bacteria exist. Denying this does not make it so. In fact, in both cases denial can be fatal. I don't agree with most of what you have said, not one tittle, not one jot. Hopefully you will reconcile with your own Roman Catholic tradition. This is my prayer for you. Cling to the rock from which you were hewn.

Anonymous said...

I have read the comments of all the posts. Are we one with Jesus? Are we in the Vine? Are we childlike?
I love hearing Jesus preached like Joseph Prince preaches Jesus. When I leave a church on Sunday...all i hear is what I am not to do. It is me focused. That is what I remember all week. When I hear Joseph Prince...all I hear is what Jesus has done. And all I think about is how much Jesus loves me all week. I want to be with Jesus more and more. He has restored my whole family...I just followed His leading. Thank you Jesus.

Dale Matson said...

I apologize to the most recent poster. In attempting to publish the comment I deleted it by accident. The posting stated that I did not understand the heavenlies and lived in the world of the flesh. I hope this represents the position of the poster fairly.

The Restful Increase said...

Hi Fr. Dale,
Which is stronger what Adam did or what Jesus has done? Supposing you are right and we need to confess our way to heaven then what Jesus accomplished on the cross is weaker than Adam's mistake. Because with Adam, we cant do anything to get us out of hell (not even our righteousness or good doing) on the flip side we forfeit Christ's Finished work on the cross with just a wrong thought.

In truth Jesus did is greater than Adam's sin. Adam disqualified us while Jesus qualified us. So when we are in Christ, our focus is not on our sin but on the righteousness of God that is given to us.

Dale Matson said...

The Restful Increase,
1. I agree that what Jesus did on the cross was greater than the sin of Adam to those who are in Christ. I disagree that Adam made a "mistake". Paul said he knew better.
2. You are misrepresenting my position by claiming that I said we must confess our way to heaven. Our confession of our sins is a response to the love of God and His mercy not a means to get to Heaven any more than preaching the Good New is a means to get to Heaven but a response to Christ's call. All of The ways we respond to our salvation are a response not a means to salvation. We do not earn it. It is a free gift of God through Christ.
Our focus is on both the righteousness of God and our sin. We will only be sinless when we are in Heaven. I believe that you and Rev. Prince would say that our Sanctification is already an accomplished fact. I would say it is a case of becoming and being at the same time. Do you believe that you no longer sin? Anyone who believes they no longer sin need only examine their own dreams to find the old Adam.

Anonymous said...

Hi...

I have attended a traditional church all my life and all I felt was condemnation. Each time I tried to be a better christian, I'd only end up deeper in the ground.
In my 20s, I got myself involved in drugs, smoking and alcohol... My life was in shambles for almost 8 years...
I can only say that after attending New Creation Church, I felt a love from my Abba Father I never experienced before. I fell in love with Jesus... It was like being Born again all over again...
I now have my life back even better than before... I have 2 kids that I never thought I'd have and just so many things that I totally do not deserve...
I once was lost... But now... am found.
Albert...

Dale Matson said...

Albert,
I am happy for you Albert. That's a wonderful testimony.

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic and have been listening to Joseph Prince. To tell you the truth, I am so encouraged by his messages and wished that there is more people who would portray God's Grace and goodness in the way he does. He really made me appreciate Our Communion even more and that I should try to attend mass daily. Pastors preaching law like " I should not sin or else... does not help me sin less." But I tend to agree with you that repentance is more than just "a change in mind" still, there's not much point in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Take what is good.

Dale Matson said...

anonymous,
While I disagree with some of of his theology, I am willing to post comments by others that affirm Joseph Prince.Your comment, while favorable to Joseph Prince, was uncharitable to others and that is why it is not posted.

Jose said...

Hi Fr. Dale. I am a catholic and believe that our church has been used by Christ to spread the word of salvation. I am 35 years old and while I see my faith increasing, I also find myself sinning again. I feel sad and frustrated that I can't remain with Christ.
I found the guide of Joseph Prince 25 days ago and I've been reading the gospel following one of his plans called the devotional reading plan. I must say that I've found hope and I feel closer to Christ than ever. Every miracle Christ did to someone was based on faith. Many times after healing someone He said "your faith has saved you, go and don't sin again" Don't sin again? How?
However, I know I will sin again, I feel it in my nature. And this is my only concern abouth Joseph's teaching. Is it possible to reach this level of holiness on earth? Can Christ give it to me?
I recently thought, We ask for forgiveness on those sins we have committed, and at that moment we don't take into account the ones we will commit, because we don't know them. However Christ knows our life and actions, even those we have not commit in the future so if we have faith he has already forgiven us even those as well. Therefore, we can be saints on Him at the end of our days?
Is this thought incorrect?
I wish to be in Christ with all my heart, what can I do for Him to listen and send me His spirit?

Dale Matson said...

Jose,
I believe your heartfelt and candid post could have been written by millions of Christians. There is no "Easy button" for the Christian life. "However, I know I will sin again, I feel it in my nature." Sanctification is a process that goes on for the entire time we are on this earth following our conversion. St. Paul was the prototype of the converted and sanctified man. St. Paul's ministry lasted about 30 years and he was a different Christian at the end than the beginning. He said in 2nd Corinthians 7:5, "When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had not relief, but we were afflicted on every side: without were fightings, within were fears." Does this sound like he wasn't struggling to you? In his latter writings to the Philippians, he wrote, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." We all struggle. We all grow. Your impatience with wanting to be a holy person is evidence that God is growing the fruits of His Spirit in you. Cling to the "Rock" from which you were hewn. My final comment is a caveat. To each of us is given a measure of faith. It is not our faith. It is on loan from God. I do not have a great faith in God. I have faith in a great God. I cannot make God do anything via my faith. He is sovereign. I can only conform my will to His will.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Fr. Dale. The LAW is also a picture of God's GRACE. How? In our sinful state, we are blinded by the fact that we are "sinners" and "ignorant" of who God is. But by God's grace, He created the LAW to POINT OUT the REALITY of our SINFUL NATURE and AT THE SAME TIME, POINT US to JESUS CHRIST who is THE ONLY WAY to Redemption and Salvation.
And by GOD's Grace when we PUT OUR FAITH in JESUS, He now gives us the ability to obey His commands or the "law" which are HIS GUIDELINES on HOW WE OUGHT TO LOVE GOD AND OTHERS.
Finally, when we say to "obey the law" it does not mean that we follow "everything written in the Old Testament" because some of it has already been fulfilled by Jesus (e.g. the requirement of offering animal sacrifices to cover for sin or offenses), while some are not applicable to us today simply because they are either a part of the Jewish Tradition and culture or they have no more use (e.g. the kinsman-redeemer law, gleaning the fields etc.), and some can be modified for our application (e.g. Sabbath Day = Resting and Gathering Together to Worship God on Sundays) BUT, every LAW written in the Old Testament has a spiritual significance, even for us, today.
THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE regarding these things.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Prince has said many times in his sermons that he is against sin completely! I have his book and no where in the book does it say he is provoking or encouraging believers to break the law. What he is saying is that no one on this earth can follow the law completely. People who think that they must follow the big 10 in order to please God etc. will probably continue to sin since they don't feel a sence of God's love. I would like to say some things that are highly inappropriate on this post but by God's grace I have self control. Who are you to judge his teachings? Let God deal with everything else...just worry about your life--not others. Praise the lord Jesus. Thank you Pastor Prince for your Grace preaching. Perfect love cast out fear. Not our love, but his love for us. AMEN!

Dale Matson said...

Dear Anonymous,
"People who think that they must follow the big 10 in order to please God etc. will probably continue to sin since they don't feel a sence of God's love"
There is no avoidance of the 'big 10',not one tittle or jot.
" Who are you to judge his teachings? Let God deal with everything else...just worry about your life--not others" But you apparently reserve the right to judge me.

Anonymous said...

I dnt know bwt u guys but my bible says dat we are dead to the law. My bible also says that we are under grace and not under the law. My bible says that Jesus came to fulfill the law because none of us can fulfill it. If u want to be justified by the law, den dnt 4get that if u break one, you're guilty of all, the bible says. If u dnt like Joseph Prince, den simply dnt listen to him. I may disagree with some of ur beliefs but if u believe and had put ur trust in the finished work of Jesus, then we are brothers! Blessings and favor to everyone!

Dale Matson said...

Dear Anonymous (AKA "my bible says")
Fortunately, It is not your bible. In order to make it so, you will have to dismiss 2,000 years of church history. It is the church that gave you your bible. It is the church that provided most of the translations. It is the church that determined the canon of Scripture. It is the church that gave us the Nicene creed. It is the church that gave us our traditional Hymns. Our liturgical form of worship is celebrated by the three largest Christian denominations. Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican. When you call it "my bible" you are essentially saying that you interpret it for yourself. If you are saying that Joseph Prince interprets it for you, then the burden of proof is on him to justify his theology. I would infer that many of the Joseph Prince supporters do not even believe that most of us are Christians based on the feedback from them that I have posted. I have never made that claim about Prince or his supporters. I actually applaud some of what he said in his book. If you are that convinced a supporter, I would think you would want your name associated with Joseph Prince on your posting. Please don't use "anonymous" and don't send your next message with texting abbreviations if there is a next message.

herestoreth said...

Matthew 23...Jesus rebukes the religious institution ...the men behind it.

Dale Matson said...

herestoreth,
Matthew 23 is a warning against being hypocritical. This applies to both institutions and individuals. Since the bride of Christ is made up of humans, it is not perfect. The church with all of it's warts has been around for 2,000 years. Let's see how well the current crop of truth tellers stands the test of time. Let's see how well they run the good race. That is the ultimate test of their authenticity.

agodlywoman said...

As He is, so are we. God knew that man could never accomplish anything. when everything else fails, pride gets in the way. Jesus was the only perfect way to accomplish everything he wanted for his beloved mankind. "It is finished" doesn't just mean the fulfillment of the law. It means everything. God didn't bring man on the scene until everything he would ever need was provided for him. Jesus gave us that back. Healing, prosperity, peace, joy, love, etc. Too many to name. We have it now in the spirit realm. It's by faith. The unseen. We put our faith in what Jesus did. God's grace. The good news of the gospel. That is what will bring men to repentance. Not fault finding. All sin has been forgiven. Past, present, future. If God doesn't see it or focus on it, why should we? When the revelation of what Jesus actually has provided for us is revealed to you, then you will have the FRUIT. The living better than you ever dreamed you could by trying to. It's the fruit, not the root. We just don't focus on forefathers, those who did this or that. Our focus is only on Jesus. The author and finisher of our faith. If people would only focus on the good of pastors, they would find they won't be condemning them as often. I'd be careful about condemning such a man of God. Anything he does outside of blatant blasphemy I would consider off limits. Peace.

Dale Matson said...

agodlywoman

"I'd be careful about condemning such a man of God. Anything he does outside of blatant blasphemy I would consider off limits. Peace. You will not find my comments to be condemning. "All sin has been forgiven. Past, present, future. If God doesn't see it or focus on it, why should we?" I agree with the first part of this but even you note that we need to be brought to repentance. As a Christian, Joseph Prince is my brother, even Peter was open to correction from Paul and Peter was not committing blasphemy.

Anonymous said...

For I say unto you follow the WORD not the church.

Dale Matson said...

Anonymous,
Speaking of the "WORD", where will I find that reference? You did not cite the reference because it is not in Scripture. This is why we have the Church. The Church and the WORD of God should agree. Don't claim a prophetic utterance from God the Holy Spirit if it does not agree with Scripture.

Powerwithaaron said...

Hi Dale, I think you are blessed by so many concerned souls.. Because if they do not care they would have just enjoy their blessings and leave you be, never knowing such love they have extended to explain what they have felt..

If you know, many are blessed and have seen great miracles and have been empowered to love the difficult such as you, could it be that this man's teaching is real? Or would you accredit all this new found love of Christ birth from the lying lips of hell?

It's either left or right bro..

But yea, it's true u got some scriptures that you believed and stand firm with the past interpretation.. How glorious and true they were before..

But bro, how great do you esteem the blood of Jesus is for you? Cause wouldn't it be a sin if u don't esteem it to its full worth? I Believe the blood of Jesus is so strong, that it sanctifies once and for all..

Besides, what good would a savior be if he requires some works like confession from man.. It's as if Jesus blood is not enough to reconcile you with God, or keep you clean untill your next known confession..

For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor principalities nor power nor angels nor devil can separate me from the love of god.. From Romans 8..

Don't fight it bro.. Receive the gift of righteousness as it is named a gift like u have read it.. There's nothing you can do to make better what Jesus has done for you.. Don't trust in your flesh and knowledge of scriptures to understand the love of God.. Your confession won't add an inch to his blood bought payment for your sanctification..

What takes God to build could only be maintained by him.. And not our puny hands.. It insults his greatness..

Let his love take over :)

Dale Matson said...

Dear Powerwithaaron,
"But yea, it's true u got some scriptures that you believed and stand firm with the past interpretation.. How glorious and true they were before.." How glorious they still are Bro.

Powerwithaaron said...

And we live from glory to glory :)

It can only get more glorious, as the best days are ahead..

If you hold on to the past you won't enjoy where God is moving now..

Brother you are precious, just like the story of the prodigal son, before he could mention all he had prepared for the father about how sorry he was and how he had sin,

The father threw himself on the neck, gave him sandals clothed him with robes and loved him unendlessly without a chance for him to even say I am sorry..

But of course, there are those who always feel like the older brother, who says how can it be? I have always worked in your fields? Kept your commandments and be true to you..

Sure you may say but the prodigal son came back from prodigal living and is like a sinner, we were all there at one point.. Now after the celebration we gotta work in the fields again, work out the salvation..

That would have been like the foundation of the older brother who believes that it is his works that keep him in the fathers love..

The answer is this, the father loved you irregardless of your efforts and deeds.. Christ died while we were still sinners, Stop magnifying how great your efforts and join the party as there is music and dancing in the farthers' house today..

If you have always felt like you are working in the fathers field by confessing, know that the father has loved you irregardless of that, if your your foundation is based on a sanctification that is conditional on your efforts, it's wavering cause u will fail, you won't enjoy the fathers love..

Don't be like the older brother, come and rejoice what a glorious day our father has made today when he has slayed the fatten calf and there is music and dancing in his house today..

God Bless :)

Dale Matson said...

powerwithaaron,

You've had ample opportunity to express yourself. Here is my testimony.
http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-testimony.html

Dale+

Anonymous said...

John.19:30....it is finished

Dale Matson said...

The work of Christ is finished. Our response is how we live out our lives in response to that fact.

* NOTE: This tread is closed to further comments.