Joseph Prince Is Promoting Idolatry In His Teachings – By Bishop Kuan Kim Seng (Dated 5 Jan 2021)
As a prelude to this article, please view the short video, titled, “Joseph Prince Rebuked & His Heresies Refuted By Bishop Kuan Kim Seng”
Question 1: Hi Bishop Kuan, can you please elaborate on the issue of idolatry?
Thank you for the question. We often don’t give enough attention to the all-important issue of the true worship of God when Holy Scripture places so much emphasis on this subject. The first three of the Ten Commandments are directly related to the worship of God and all the other seven are hinged on the same matter. Idolatry is the antithesis of true worship.
(In contemporary Christianity, many people equate worship with singing, which is but one aspect of the true worship of God, and miss out the core of true worship – the surrender of our lives to serve God and to do His will.)
The classic text to help us understand the mind of God regarding idolatry is Exodus 32:1-10. This is the golden calf incident. (Please read text for yourself if you are not familiar with it.)
In that incident, Aaron and the other Israelites clearly had no intention of abandoning God and subscribing to the worship of another god when they made that image of the golden calf. In their mind, they were continuing in the worship of YHWH (as in the First Commandment and elsewhere, ‘I am YHWH your God …’). Aaron made it abundantly clear when he declared in Ex 32:5b, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to YHWH.’
Aaron and the Israelites thought that they were still faithful in the worship of YHWH, but to God, it was plain idolatry, and it incurred His extreme wrath. If not for the intercession of Moses, the Israelites, including Aaron would have been struck dead by God.
What lessons can we learn from Exodus 32:1-10? Many. Firstly, idolatry is extremely insidious – we can be idolatrous without knowing that we have strayed off course. We can even continue to call YHWH by the name that He had made Himself known to His people and still be idolatrous. The New Testament equivalent of this danger is found in Matthew 7:21, where the Lord Jesus taught us that in the judgement that is to come, Christians will call Him, ‘Lord, Lord’ and yet be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.
Idolatry is the forming of a deity of human conception. In simple idolatry, it is the creating of a material idol, be it of wood, stone, clay, or even a drawing. In sophisticated idolatry, it is the forming of God or Jesus with concepts that are in contradiction to Biblical revelations, such as when Joseph Prince blatantly claimed that ‘You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant.’
Question 2: Bishop Kuan, you seem to take severe exception to the claim of Joseph Prince that ‘You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant.’ Why is this so?
Well, apart from the fact that this false teaching leads to idolatry, I’d like to elaborate that such a misrepresentation of Holy Scripture will lead people into a false worship of the true and living God, which is idolatry.
A vital dimension of biblically shaped worship of God is the fear of God. Holy Scripture in Hebrews 12:28-29 makes this imperative crystal clear – ‘Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.’
Without the holy fear of God, there will be no acceptable worship of God. When Christians are taught to belittle punishment and judgement that comes from God, the result is that this most precious gift of the fear of God is eliminated.
When the fear of God is jettisoned, true worship is thrown out of the window. The fear of God is the wellspring from which the true worship of God, holiness and sanctification flow. There is no reason for Scripture to teach us that ‘our God is a consuming fire’ if this truth is unnecessary for our Christian walk and witness.
Hence, I think the teaching of Joseph Prince that ‘You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant’ is totally irresponsible, apart from it being totally anti-biblical!
Imagine, this is just one aspect of Joseph Prince’s teachings that leads people to idolatry, and I have not even mentioned about plenty of his other teachings that lead to the same end. That being so, there can be no doubt that Joseph Prince is a heretic that the Church of Jesus Christ (especially in Singapore) must contend against.
Bishop Kuan Kim Seng (Retired)
(Anglican) Diocese of Singapore