1) Introduction To My Website (Updated: October 2023)
Welcome to my website :) My name is Jonathan and this website is about my thoughts and reflections on life and living in this world as a Christian. To go straight into exploring my thoughts & writings, you can use the navigation menu above to explore my thoughts on Joseph Prince's Grace message, Progressive Christianity, Charismatic Christianity, Mystical Christianity, Poverty, Progressive Politics & Social Justice, etc. Alternatively, you can read on below (or use the Table of Contents above) if you're interested in my intellectual (Christian, Political and Theological) journey from my teens to now.
2) Website: 2007 to 2013 and 2023 onwards
I started stillhaventfound.org around 2007. It was mainly for me to write about my thoughts and life journey - as a record for myself and a way to clarify and solidify my own thinking on various topics close to my heart. And also because I really love connecting with other like-minded people who are interested in the same issues as I am. Through the interactions I've had with visitors and commentors, I've made many friends from Singapore and other parts of the world - and I've met up with many of them who have read my writings especially on Joseph Prince's Grace theology and also on Healing.
I stopped writing here from around 2013 due to busyness. A virus took it down soon after and it remained offline for a number of years before I finally decided to spend a bit of time bringing my baby back online and re-organizing its structure at the end of 2022. It's much more organized into topical areas (no more confusing blog posts) now and all my writings can be accessed through the Navigation Menu above. I've also removed most of the shorter posts so what remains are mostly my longer ones.
4) Interests (Past) [More In-Depth]
4.1) Early Christian Faith
Though baptized as an infant in a non-charismatic church, God transformed my life in a Pentecostal / Charismatic Church when I was around 14-15 years old. I encountered the Toronto Blessing then and so I've always been very Charismatic in my Christian beliefs and practice (go to Charismatic Christianity for my writings on this Christian tradition).
4.1.2) Non-Reformed but Appreciative of the Tradition
I started reading around that time and was soon attracted to the more theologically solid Reformed / Calvinistic tradition and attended a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Singapore for a while. While I'm no longer Reformed, I've always appreciated and followed contemporary Reformed authors and teachings (e.g. those related to The Gospel Coalition). I am definitely NOT Reformed or Calvinistic, but I still read their stuff every so often because I'm a huge believer in being open to all views and traditions in the pursuit of truth - and I don't believe in being in an echo chamber and just reading from your own tradition. Charismatic Christianity is very right-brain in focus while non-Charismatic Reformed Christianity is very left-brained. Both are important and both play a role in discovering truth and experiencing the fullness of what God has for us.
Every time I am interested in a topic (Christian or otherwise) and I want to do my own research, if I can find a book by a good non-Charismatic Reformed author on that topic, I'm usually quite happy because I know the tradition well enough to know it's to be reckoned with intellectually and so I know I would generally get a very solid academic perspective of that topic that I can build my own understanding upon. I may not agree fully with their perspective (and often don't), but at least I know that they are going to treat that topic well and my eventual viewpoint needs to take their writings and arguments into consideration. That's the left-brain part of me coming out - I appreciate a tradition that has strong intellectual roots. Just to be clear, I am not saying that a non-Reformed/Calvinistic treatment of a topic would not be intellectually rigorous. I am just more familiar with the Reformed tradition - and while I definitely strongly disagree with a lot of their views (e.g. Predestination, Hell as Eternal Conscious Torment, etc.), I also have learned a huge amount from them especially in relation to what the Gospel is, Gospel-centeredness and reading / preaching / teaching the Bible not in a moralistic manner (i.e. using biblical narratives primarily as moralistic examples of how we ought to live) but in a Redemptive-Historical and Biblical-Theological way - i.e. reading and preaching the Bible in a way in a way that's sensitive to different stages of Salvation History and in such a way that always points to Christ and the work he has done (i.e. the Gospel message) as the fulfillment (see Redemptive Historical Preaching and What Is Biblical Theology?). This is the reason why I've written a lot about Pastor Prince's Grace message (see below) - because to me, he's one of the best in this (i.e. preaching the Bible in a "Redemptive-Historical" and "Biblical-Theological" way), even though he probably wouldn't know what the terms "Redemptive-Historical" or "Biblical Theology" (in its technical specialized meaning in the Reformed context) is.
Something that I also appreciate about Reformed Christians and Christianity these days is that I think they tend to hold a much more moderate position on politics - as informed by their understanding of the role of politics and how the preaching of gospel of Jesus Christ ought to be the focus of the Church. For example, I don't think you'll find as many Donald Trump supporters or Christians excessively involved in Right-Wing politics (even though they generally lean Right) in this tradition (correct me if I'm wrong) as you'll find in Charismatic Christianity - which is filled with such supporters and Christians with extremely strong Right Wing political views (see below).
4.1.3) Left vs Right Brained Christianity
Having stated my great appreciation of the intellectually rigorous Reformed tradition, I by no means think that life in general or one's Christian faith or one's relationship with God ought to revolve around the left-brain intellectual understanding of Christianity or God or the pursuit of "objective" truth. This is a very Western way of seeing things (see Iain McGilchrist's The Master And His Emissary) and even though I've been very influenced by this way of seeing the world, I know focusing only on the Left would not be completely holistic! And that's why I'm still very Charismatic in my Christian practices and in a sense I try to discipline myself to engage more with the less-intellectually rigorous Charismatic Christianity - perhaps this is so because I am much more left-brained and thus I desire to open myself up to the (other) side that I am not naturally comfortable with in order to challenge myself to grow in this important area.
And a challenge it's been for me all these years! Engaging with the Right side of my brain (which I have increasingly done so in the past year through Meditation, Breathwork, Stillness, Listening and Worship) can be a huge challenge (although Worship is easier!) as my Left side is so attracted to understanding the world, my faith and God intellectually - and it's so hard to deny myself a very good book or a good read!
At this point in my life, especially since my encounters with "Mystical Christianity" (see below), I'm trying to lay aside reading too many interesting books and instead focus more on spending time with God and engaging the Right side.
4.1.4) Grace-Based & Gospel-Centered Christianity
I've written a lot on my website on New Creation Church's (Singapore) and Pastor Joseph Prince's message on Grace. And here's where I bring my appreciation and understanding of Reformed Theology in at least two important areas:
- The understanding of the importance of "Redemptive-Historical" and "Biblical-Theological" preaching (see above).
- The understanding of the Marrow of Modern Divinity controversy (The best book on this controversy: "The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance - why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters") and the Lordship Salvation controversy (The best book on this controversy: "Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation"). I actually also recommend "No Condemnation: A Theology of Assurance of Salvation" by Michael Eaton, which is a book that also influenced my thinking a bit. All this relates to important areas of faith such as grace, repentance, faith, assurance, antinomianism and legalism, etc.
I encountered the above two areas of Reformed theology before I got to know who Pastor Joseph Prince was. And in my opinion, Joseph Prince's beautiful Christ-centered and Gospel-centered preaching is "Redemptive-Historical" in framework in many ways and he also understands with such clarity what the Gospel is (and distinguishes well the difference between the Law and Gospel), as if he had studied the above two controversies.
Now let me be clear, I don't think Pastor Prince knows what in the world "Redemptive-Historical" or "Biblical-Theological" (as defined narrowly as a special discipline) preaching is, nor do I think he has studied the two controversies above. His preaching reflects lessons learned from the above two areas, but such truths can be learned through other means too - and I doubt he learned it through the Reformed tradition. But for me, I learned an appreciation of Christ-centered preaching and a gospel that avoided both "legalism" and "antinomianism" through the above two areas within the Reformed tradition.
Anyway, my articles on New Creation Church and Grace (36+ articles of them) draw heavily from what I have learned from these two areas. The reason why I've written so much about this and feel so strongly about it is that Christian preaching ought to always point to Christ and His work (as learned from "Redemptive-Historical" / "Biblical-Theological" preaching) and Christian living ought to be built on the foundation of what Christ did for us and never on what we do in response (as learned from the two controversies above). This is what's so unique about Pastor Joseph Prince's teaching.
The opposite of all of this, which is common in many churches, is
- The focus on moralism, especially through preaching biblical narratives and stories not to point to Christ but to point to how we ought to follow after the biblical character, all of which leads to us not being positively overwhelmed by God's love in Christ, but rather us being negatively overcome by our sense of sin, failure and shame and
- The legalistic call in many circles of Christianity to get us to question and "prove" our salvation by looking at whether we have enough good works or holiness or "repentance" - instead of looking mainly to Christ and His Work for assurance of our salvation.
No doubt such above preaching (meant to wake us up to pursue holiness) is borne of good intentions, but the solution presented above to the problem of a lack of godliness and holiness in the church is completely wrong! The main solution for Paul, when confronted with a church that lacks godliness, is not to get them to question their salvation and prove it by doing good works, nor is it to threaten them or scare them into holiness. The main way is not to preach biblical narratives to inspire people to follow after godly characters in the Bible. The main solution (which is lacking in most churches today that do not understand the two areas mentioned above) is simply this: preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its beauty and let the power of the Gospel transform lives. Preaching the Gospel also means reminding people of who they are in Christ, reminding them that they are united with Christ, reminding them the Holy Spirit lives in them, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9-20). Basically, it is telling people what Christ has done for them and who they are as a result of the Gospel and telling them to live up to this beautiful new identity - not that of a wretched sinner, but of a new creation and beloved child of God.
No, preaching the beautiful Gospel as Pastor Prince does will not lead to licentiousness or antinomianism. It will lead to people understanding their new identity and thus living up to that identity and living for Him.
When one's preaching focuses always on Christ and how He has fulfilled everything for us (no matter what biblical passage is being expounded on as it ought to always point to Him), and when the preacher understands his job is not to make listeners question their salvation, but to assure them of their salvation and new identity because of Christ's Work and not theirs - if both of these things happen in a sermon, you get the kind of overwhelming experience many people get in New Creation Church - the experience of God's love in Christ, the experience and understanding of who they are in Christ.
I am not saying New Creation Church is perfect and I do take issues with certain things, but the point is that overall Pastor Joseph Prince's message is a message that causes people to understand the beauty of the Gospel and the beauty of Jesus Christ and the wonder of God's love for us in Christ. The focus is on Jesus and His Work (i.e. the Gospel). The more people understand this, the more their hearts are transformed and the more they want to live for their loving God. The result is greater love for God and holiness - not a desire to sin recklessly and licentiously. That's what Gospel-centeredness is about and that's what Gospel-driven Sanctification is about - preaching the beautiful Gospel of Grace in such a consuming way that it changes the hearts of people when they understand and experience how much God loves them in Christ, resulting in them wanting to live for Him.
4.2) Progressive Politics & Progressive Christianity 1.0
Starting to read from my teenage years not only opened me up to reading a lot of Christian, Charismatic and theological (mainly Reformed) books, but it also resulted in me becoming very interested in the world in general as I devoured books related to Politics, Economics, Sociology and Psychology, etc. I became interested especially in Politics and Social Justice and did my University studies in Politics and International Development (and also Spanish and Latin American Studies). As with many young idealistic people, I held views on the political left. And this was challenging for me because most Evangelicals (especially American evangelicals, but guess what, American culture and evangelicalism influence the rest of the world!) were more conservative and right-wing.
My Progressive Politics influenced my Christianity. As politically progressive, I didn’t like the Evangelical church’s views on many issues like the LGBT issue and the issue of Poverty was also very close to my heart – I couldn’t understand how the Western or Developed World Christians lived such comfortable lives when so many people were dying in the world. Didn’t the Bible call us to sacrifice and share with those in need? Furthermore, if we really believed that people who didn’t believe in Jesus would spend eternity in hell, shouldn’t we then have a bit more urgency and do infinitely much more than the church had been doing in terms of giving to missions so that more people would be saved?
The militant "culture-warriorism" approach of Conservative Evangelicalism was also something I didn't like. I thought the Christian Evangelical world ought to be more winsome and gracious. For example, even if Christians were against Abortion (a view I would agree with), rather than protesting outside abortion clinics or using politics to outlaw abortion, the more winsome and gracious and loving approach would be to get Christians to foster or adopt these children. Of course this is more challenging than protesting or getting politically involved as this would require a lot of sacrifice on the part of Christians. But I think this is the way we Christians ought to show the world what love is.
Also, it was probably during this time that I first encountered Christian Universalism through this article: Yale Philosophy Professor Keith DeRose's Universalism and the Bible.
So it was probably in my late teens to early twenties that I also became more progressive in my Christian faith. The Emergent Church movement at that time was very influential. Books like Brian McLaren's "A New Kind of Christian" let me know that there were other Christians (and even a movement) out there with similar concerns. So when I say I'm a Progressive Christian, I'm referring to all this (perhaps a form of post-conservative Evangelicalism that questions certain traditional beliefs and is passionate about Social Justice) - and not Liberal Theology or Liberal Christianity.
4.3) Charismatic Healing - Theology & Practice
There was definitely a stage in my life in my 20s when that I wasn't really seeking Jesus much. I was definitely disappointed with conservative institutional Christianity because of my progressive politics and progressive view on Christianity. I never disavowed my faith, but I was probably also focused on other things.
Probably in my late 20s or early 30s, divine healing became something I was interested in - both divine physical and emotional healing, but especially the former. To see so many people suffer physically (and emotionally) was heartbreaking and is in many ways the same as seeing so many people in poverty. If one could help eliminate suffering of other people through divine empowerment, why wouldn't one do so?
I was already very familiar with Bill Johnson and Bethel Church (and their Charismatic focus on healing and prophecy, etc.), but it was my encounter with Curry Blake's teachings on healing that made me really pay attention - and got me really seeking Him again. His teachings focused more on the left-brain ("Take God's word as it is and go out and heal the sick") and less on the more right-brained intuition ("Be led by God's Spirit"). This is a generalization of course, but there was a clear difference to me then. I've always been a more left-brained person and I've struggled with right-brained intuition and feelings. I do not feel that comfortable with Charismatic Christians focusing on "experiencing" and "feeling" and all that "God told me this...", etc. So I completely understand non-Charismatic cerebral Christianity that really focuses a lot of objective truth and being biblical and not being influenced by one's feelings and emotions because they are not an infallible guide, etc. On the other hand, I still stay within Charismatic Christianity because I am aware that this is an area of my life (i.e. the right brained area) that I need to work on: the sensing of God's direction, the intuition, the feeling and experiencing, etc. It can be a huge challenge for me, but I also know that Christianity has to be much more than a cerebral faith and that a holistic experience of both sides of the brain is the way to go.
Anyway, back to the point. While Curry is no doubt Charismatic in his beliefs, his personality and teachings and experience is more cerebral and very different from Bill Johnson. This aspect of him (his style and personality and teaching), along with the fact that he claimed to have a lot of results, greatly attracted me to his teachings and ministering healing specifically. I've been a Charismatic Christian for a long time and I've heard a lot taught about healing, but never really saw much evidence of it and thus the idealist in me was very drawn to the fact that Curry and his ministry seemed to get a lot of results.
As a result of me getting into healing, I attended a conference at Bethel Church and also a healing conference with Curry Blake in the States. Through me sharing a lot of my thoughts on healing on this website, I got to know a lot of Christians (mainly from New Creation Church since after all I also wrote a lot on New Creation Church and Grace) and for a period of time we were involved in Street Healing in Singapore.
You can find my writings on a) a theology of healing and the differences between Curry Blake's and Bill Johnson's teachings and style of ministering healing, b) the healing events I attended in Singapore and overseas and c) my experiences with street healing (and even trying to raise the dead) in Singapore here: Charismatic Christianity.
5) Interests (Present) [More In-Depth]
5.1) Mystical Christianity (Christian Mysticism, Next Age / Age To Come Christianity)
Something that just happened to me recently in 2022 is my discovery of a relatively new and small stream of Christianity called "Mystical Christianity" or "Christian Mysticism" or "Next Age / Age To Come Christianity". These are the various terms being used to describe this stream or movement.
I was attracted to this stream because it (or at least a section of this stream - e.g. leaders like Mike Parsons, Nancy Coen, Justin Abraham, Katharine Wang, etc.) is really a confluence of almost all of the above interests and passions of mine: Grace-Based Christianity, Charismatic Christianity, Progressive Politics and Progressive Christianity all pretty much converge in this stream of Christianity. It's a Christianity that is based on the radical love of God, radical intimacy with Him, radical experiences of Him and the Spiritual World - and which ought to result in a radical acceptance and love for all of mankind and creation. I think that's the kind of Christianity I can truly embrace!
The term "Mystical" or "Mysticism" generally refers to a radical experience with/of God - and the Spiritual Realms. So this stream is in a sense Charismatic Christianity on steroids. And of course this stream is inspired by the experiences of the Christian Mystics of the past.
The terms "Next Age" and "Age To Come" are also used because people in this movement do believe that this is, in a sense, the "next (big) thing" in Christianity, that Christianity in this age ought to be a Christianity as described above. I can understand why such terms are used and there could be a biblical and philosophical basis for using such terms to describe this stream of Christianity, but of course humility is always needed when one claims to be part of the "next movement" of God.
Because I've been quite involved in this movement or stream the past year and my plans are to continue to be part of it, I plan to write a lot more about this movement on this website. You will be able to find my writings here: Mystical Christianity.
Because of my involvement with the above stream of Christianity, I've also begun to look into and practice more Meditation - which is a challenge for me! I love Joe Dispenza's teachings and meditations. He's not a Christian, but I do believe that a lot of what he teaches may not be explicitly Christian, but that doesn't mean it's anti-Christian either. There are many things that are "natural" and perhaps based on "natural laws" - and not necessarily demonic in origin. Watch this YouTube playlist of 600+ healing video testimonials as a result of Joe Dispenza's teachings and meditations. Surely all this cannot be demonic. I believe Joe and others have tapped into something (basically ancient wisdom) that's merely natural and not demonic - and they bring a lot of science into their practices to make it non-religious in nature. And of course while there are definitely things demonic in origin that we need to be careful of, such demonic things in the "New Age" perhaps ought to be viewed as a "twisted counterfeit" of the "righteous real" (see this video by Nancy Coen on the "New Age") - and rather than being put off by anything that seems "New Age", perhaps, as Christians, it's better to discover the "righteous real" version of it.
5.3) Relationships (Divorce and How To Keep The Love Alive?)
I've always been interested in Psychology in general and various Self-Improvement and Personal Development beliefs and practices. However, recently I've also been particularly interested in relationships in general and marriage or partner relationships in particular as I went through a divorce in 2020. My ex-wife and I saw about 9 marriage counsellors over a 1 to 2 year period before the divorce. My experience with counseling and many counsellors, my divorce, my own reflection of it afterwards and the fact that I've always observed (since my 20s) how probably the majority of marriages (including that of many of my friends) are unhappy (though both parties continue to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children) - all this made me explore (post-divorce) various things like the issue of trauma, attachment theories, vulnerability, how marriages and relationships can survive and thrive, why so many relationships are so very passionate in the beginning yet end up completely lukewarm eventually, etc. During this time I also encountered Sue Johnson's Emotionally Focused (Couples) Therapy (EFT), which I really liked. So I have a lot of reflections on all this and I do hope to share some of my thoughts here in future.
5.4) Progressive Politics & Progressive Christianity 2.0
I began my foray into Politics and Progressive Politics during my late teens because of reading. The Internet and Social Media back then wasn't as it is now and because of that I think a lot has changed. While Social Media has gotten more people (and especially young people) aware of the injustices in the world and involved in progressive issues, it's also caused a lot more polarization and people on both sides have become less reflective and rational and more reactionary. Furthermore, you had Donald Trump and Covid, which increased the polarization and irrationality on both sides even more. Because of the above and also my interest in the now-defunct Intellectual Dark Web (IDW), I started to realize that while the extreme right can be truly irrational, the left also has its own set of problems and the result is that my views on Politics have moderated a bit. I am still very much Progressive, but I am definitely against "Wokeism" (yes, a positive term unfortunately hijacked by the Right and has now become a pejorative) and "Cancel Culture" and I'm very much pro-Free Speech. The Mainstream Media is generally left-leaning and while I am of that political persuasion in general too, I think it is extremely unhealthy when dissenting voices are not invited to partake in discussions - which occurred during Covid. I especially did not like how the Covid Vaccine and related issues (e.g. Ivermectin) were portrayed in the left-leaning Mainstream Media.
Let me be clear: there's no equivalency here. I'm still on the political left, but I've also started to see a lot of problems when the left, in pursuit of social justice, clamps down on free speech and loses sight of the bigger picture. In the long run, we all suffer without the freedom for people to speak their opinions - however ugly or wrong it may seem to us. Shutting people down and not hearing and interacting with others because you think you're 100% right is a result of extreme dogmatism and society suffers as we fail to learn from each other (and refine our beliefs) when we prefer to live comfortably within our own echo chamber. Of course there's the issue of hate speech, violence-inciting speech and misinformation (which begs the question, "misinformation according to whom?" - answer: according to those in power), but I think in the grand scheme of things, society will ultimately be better off if we all err on the side of allowing free speech - and to me this was made abundantly clear through various events and policies throughout the world during Covid, not least the way the influential corporate mainstream left-leaning media framed the issues.
With regard to "Progressive Christianity", this term has become more popular in the past few years - especially with the publishing of Alisha Childers' book "Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity". I have many thoughts on this and many other books, articles and YouTube videos that critique "Progressive Christianity". I'll write more in future but basically I'll say that the kind of "Progressive Christianity" I hold to is different from "Liberal Christianity" or "Liberal Theology", thus conflating the two, as many of critiques have done, doesn't help clarify things at all - nor does it help bring forward the discussion in helpful ways. I am hoping to write more on how one can be more Progressive (or Post-Conservative Evangelical) in one's views of Christianity and yet still stay clearly within Christian Orthodoxy - like people like Robin Parry, Brad Jersak, David Bentley Hart and Gregory Boyd. None would claim the term "Progressive Christian" of course. But that's how I'm using the term "Progressive Christianity". And anyway, whatever term one uses doesn't matter as I'm not particularly attached to any term. My heart is to see those dissatisfied with Conservative Evangelicalism not deconstruct their way to Liberal Theology or Deconversion, but to help them see there's a possibility to hold to different theological views (on LGBT, Hell, the Bible, etc.) and yet still be considered within Christian Orthodoxy.