1) Introduction (Updated: February 2023)
1.1) Why I wrote these 36 articles on Grace (2004 to 2013) and how I came to my own understanding of Grace (late 1990s)
At the bottom of this page is a collection of 36 articles (50,000+ words in total and 450+ comments) in which I wrote positively about Joseph Prince's & New Creation Church (NCC)'s Grace teachings from 2004 to 2013. I referred especially to a lot of Reformed / Calvinistic authors, ideas & historical controversies (relationship between Justification and Sanctification, relationship between Faith and Repentance, Assurance, Gospel-Driven Sanctification, Antinomianism, Legalism, the Marrow of Modern Divinity controversy, the Lordship Salvation controversy, etc.) because that's how I first grappled with a more "legalistic" perspective of the gospel (in the late 1990s). Then, I encountered the Lordship Salvation controversy and so I started doing my own research and interacted with some Reformed authors and then ended up getting clarity about the true message of the Gospel (which is similar to what Pastor Prince teaches). [By the way, I will not claim to be Reformed or Calvinistic in my overall beliefs, but I do appreciate certain aspects of this tradition. However, it is worth noting that then - as now - there are still people within the Reformed tradition that lean towards a more legalistic understanding of the gospel.]
Anyway, my point in explaining the above is to emphasize that I started to understand all this even before I heard of Joseph Prince - so when I heard of him and his message of Grace, I had already accepted the essence of his Grace message. In fact, I don't think the most fundamental aspects of his Grace message is unique at all if you're familiar with what's been taught in the history of the Church; of course he adds his own unique flavor to the message (some of which I may not agree with but which doesn't take away from the essence of his Grace message) and he has a charming charismatic personality that causes people to listen to him (and which unfortunately causes many to love him or hate him with an unhealthy over the top passion - depending on what you think of his teachings). Yes, I don't think being a "groupie" of any minister is very healthy and I'm certainly not an uncritical supporter of what Pastor Prince says. I do have my disagreements with the things he teaches, but I also strongly believe in giving credit where credit is due. In terms of the gospel presentation (and getting people to understand and experience God's passionate love for us in Christ) and in terms of preaching in a "Redemptive-Historical" way (that points every part of the Bible to Christ and Him Crucified), I think you'll rarely hear a better preacher out there - partly due to his charisma, but also a lot to do with the message itself.
I wrote a lot of the below articles because I knew many people were struggling with whether his Grace message was biblical or not as he had (and still has - if not more so presently) many, many critics. Many (or even most) of the largest and influential churches in Singapore have spoken out against his Grace message directly or indirectly. I was in a meeting recently (late 2022) where the "prophet" said Pastor Prince deserved hell! And there are others online too that have said or hinted at the same thing. I have lots to say about this kind of harsh criticism but I will refrain from doing so here - except to say that I'm not surprised because this is just a reflection of the unacceptable dogmatism so common in (Conservative) Evangelical Christianity.
So anyway, these articles weren't really written to contend with those who see Joseph Prince's message as dangerous and hell-worthy - and are so sure of themselves in this. Probably nothing will convince such people otherwise - and it's better to agree to disagree and go on our own way. I wrote the articles below to provide my own perspective of his message of Grace from what I learned from the Reformed tradition and the struggles I myself went through to understand what the gospel is all about. It's especially for those who are still searching in good faith and unsure of what to think about Pastor Prince's Grace teachings. I hope you find what I've written thought provoking and it helps you in your own journey to understand the gospel. I leave the reader to come to their own conclusions.
1.2) Where I stand on Grace now in 2023
It's around 2023 at the time of my writing this so that's almost 20 years after I started writing these articles. I think I probably still stand by most of what's written here though I haven't had time to go through everything again. While I do not attend NCC anymore (and haven't for a long time), I would think that the centrality of Pastor Prince's Grace message is still the same (feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong).
Do note that I don't really address other aspects of Pastor Prince's message besides Grace (and maybe a bit on Prosperity - see below) because I'm not really interested in other areas (his use of the Hebrew language, his end times teachings, etc.) and I don't think I have that much to contribute in those areas - and I also probably may not agree with him on some of them.
1.3) Sidenote (on Understanding one's own Limits and Expertise, taking a position too Dogmatically, Steelmanning & Rule Omega in Dialoguing, and Humility in one's presentation of one's position)
I believe strongly in staying in one own's lane. I know what areas I'm passionate about and I've done my research in and what areas I'm confident of speaking about at length - just a few areas I share on this website. I marvel at how so many people can speak so confidently and dogmatically of so many topics because they think they've suddenly become experts on everything after reading a few articles or a few books on that topic - and without understanding or interacting extensively with contrary viewpoints. This is so prevalent in Conservative Evangelical Christianity - even though it is also found on the more progressive sides - and it's probably in fact fallen human nature to want to think of oneself more highly than one ought to.
I think (for most people) the more one knows about any particular area in the Humanities and Social (and even Physical) Sciences, the more one realizes how much one doesn't know - and how much there is still to know (see Freddy Krueger Dunning Kruger Effect). That doesn't mean not taking a stance - it just means taking a stance with much more humility. I think for everything I share on this blog - be it related to Grace, Prosperity, Progressive Christianity, Progressive Politics, Christian Universalism, Mystical Christianity, etc. - I can completely understand how people can come to a contrary viewpoint from mine. I would never say my position is 100% right and everybody else is wrong. That doesn't mean I don't believe strongly in the things I talk about - it just means that anybody aware of the realities of living in this fallen world where we see "through a glass darkly" and "through our own biased perspectives and lenses" will also know that no 100% airtight argument can be made for any viewpoint. That's just not the way life works here.
That's not to say then that there's no place for finding out as much one can about a topic and coming to a strong position on it. There's also a place for not researching a topic (nobody has all the time in the world) and thus not wanting to take a strong position or even any position on it.* There is definitely a place for that - even if ultimately one should probably hold one's viewpoint more lightly and less dogmatically than one is inclined to. If I am interested in a particular topic, I love talking to people who are truly knowledgeable about a certain topic and debate - and especially if they hold to an opposite viewpoint from mine but in a humble way. Sparring with them intellectually (of course, in a respectful way) would then help me refine my own views even more.
I am happy to have a dialogue and debate with anyone about what I've written below on Grace - as long as it's done in good faith and for the purpose of learning from each other. I certainly have not "arrived" and I'm sure there's a lot more I can learn about on this issue of Grace. In the past few years, I've learned a few good conversational techniques that can aid in dialoguing. One is to make sure both sides are able to "steelman" the opposite argument (Daniel Schmachtenberger), which is basically attempting to "re-express the other person's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that they say, 'Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way'" (Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking, Daniel Dennett). Another is that of Rule Omega, which is basically granting the other person the benefit of the doubt as they present their argument and making the effort to "isolate the signal from the noise" and try to look for the good in what's being said. I think having good dialogues and debates in good faith, humility and with mutual respect for each other - in addition to applying good conversational techniques like the above two - can only benefit both parties and those following the debate.
* I quite like how Daniel Schmachtenberger said, "If you don't understand (the arguments) well enough to steelman both sides (of the debate), you shouldn't have a strong perspective. You should just say, 'I don't know'. And just sit in the unknowing. And say, 'If I want to know enough, I have to study.' But to have a strong belief where I don't understand the topic is much worse than just saying, 'I don't know'."
PS: Perhaps the best theological book I've ever read that seeks to steelman the opposing argument and is perhaps the most "humble" (least "dogmatic") in the presentation of its position is Robin Parry's The Evangelical Universalist, which to me is the best "Christian Universalism" book out there. I think the tone of this book is very much in keeping with Robin Parry's meek personality and because he's presenting to an Evangelical audience a doctrine that many people (mistakenly) think is heretical, there's so much going against him and his views already from the start and thus I think that's the best and wisest way to present his argument - as it will cause people to be more open to his perspectives. If I were to ever write a book on any controversial topic, Robin Parry's book would definitely be the kind of book I aspire to write. In fact, I think all Christian theological books should probably be written like that.
1.4) Let's get "Prosperity" out of the way first before we address "Grace"...
In the articles below I won't be addressing the "Prosperity" issue that much because it's really the Grace message that is what makes Pastor Prince's ministry most unique. Actually, if there's anything unique about his teachings on "Prosperity", I would argue that it's unique because it's actually more moderate (and less extreme) than most other Faith preachers. But I want to touch a bit here on "Prosperity" because this is a common criticism of Joseph Prince and New Creation Church.
I would probably differ a bit from Pastor Prince and most New Creation Church members in this area. If anything, this goes to show that both the messages of "Grace" and "Prosperity" are different and ought to be looked at separately. If you disagree with the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" (which I think I generally do disagree in some areas, not all), that doesn't automatically mean you should take a negative view of Pastor Prince's message on "Grace".
So on to some quick thoughts on Prosperity. I am a firm believer that "we're blessed to be a blessing" - not just in theory, but also in practice. Part of what led me to a more "Progressive" form of Christianity is my passion for Social Justice and helping the poor (of which I've written a lot on this website) and marginalized. My view on Prosperity and helping the poor and less fortunate as Christians is more clearly articulated here: Encountering Peter Singer. I think the ideal in Scripture is the call to love others just as Christ has loved us. I think what this means practically is that in general Christians probably shouldn't be living a life of luxury in the light of so much poverty in the world - and the fact that you lowering your standard of living and giving more to others could help a lot of people. This has nothing to do with whether Prosperity is good or bad. Prosperity is obviously good because that's what you're going to experience in future with God. But we have to think of life here on earth with so many people in such a bad situation and the fact that we could help them improve their situation if we lowered our standard of living.
I do not want to make rules for Christians on what kind of living standards we should be at. But for me personally, I challenge myself to live up to the standards which I mentioned in the Peter Singer article above. Ultimately, I think it's more important for me to live up to that standard than for me to criticize others - and I know I myself fall short of that ideal, so I want to try not to point out the speck in the eyes of others.
This issue isn't just something that only people in New Creation Church or Word of Faith churches should seriously think about. It's an issue for perhaps 90%+ of Christians in the developed world - we're a community of Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger. Speaking of Singapore, let's talk not just about New Creation Church but also the Methodist Churches and Christians. Christians there may not be preached the "Prosperity Gospel", but what about their lifestyles? My point is not to pick on the Methodist Churches or Methodist Christians because I know my own social-economic background is just like many of the people there (so the joke's on me too!). And it's not just Methodist Churches in Singapore, but for any Christian who is rich and living a pretty good lifestyle, I think before you criticize New Creation or the Prosperity message, look at how we're living. Perhaps in one sense you can even say that the New Creation members are living up to their own standards and message, whereas those who criticize New Creation's so-called "Prosperity Gospel" and pride themselves in understanding the Bible better aren't actually living up to what they believe. There are problems on both sides.
I believe God's heart is for the poor. And if we truly catch that heart of God, we would consider how we ought to lower our standard of living and bless others instead. That's the challenge for all - including myself. As for the institutional church, I don't think God is too impressed with "nice, expensive" buildings built "for his glory" when the money could be used to help the poor and preach the message to the lost - not forgetting that we, not physical buildings, are the temple of God.
Having said all that, blessing others is not a condition for salvation or being loved by God. I think the more people are transformed by the love of God, the more they will want to love God and love others. Failing to live up to the ideal ought not to make one feel condemned because that doesn't change Christ's finished work for you or the fact that God loves you so passionately. Furthermore, feeling condemned doesn't help us want to draw closer to God and please Him - it does more of the opposite. Yes, we all fail, and the way forward is to acknowledge that while we can do better, our righteousness depends not on our works, but Christ's. And yes, meanwhile, we ought to strive to do better and to live more for Him - because He has done so much for us.
I think God would sincerely want many, many, many more Christians to truly give their all to Him (which includes giving to the poor because He loves the poor) than we see today, and I do believe He grieves over how there's so much poverty and destruction and how many of His own people are spending their money and wealth on themselves instead of truly helping the poor. But I also believe He's not an authoritarian and angry God who condemns people who do not live up to that standard.
We have our own free wills and we make our own decisions. He's not going to threaten us. On the other hand, I think He so delights when we live up to the love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross - a love of ultimate sacrifice. We're not trying to be a Christ for ourselves and earn our way into his favour - we can't do that. But when we say:
"Jesus, you gave your life fully for me and the world, even to death. I love you so much that I'm going to sacrifice a bit of my standard of living and lifestyle so that other people may get to know your love too just as I have gotten to experience it."
I think when we say that to Him, He's overjoyed.
Yes, he delights in blessing us with prosperity. I believe that's 100% true. But I think his delight is even greater when we finally "get it" (not get prosperity but get the understanding that "we're blessed to be a blessing") and "out of our own free will" realize that we have such a wonderful opportunity to bless so many other people through what He has blessed us with and then decide to do so. Perhaps that's when we have shown our spiritual maturity.
So, no, I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying one's blessings. It's just that the way I look at it, God is wooing us gently and without condemnation and judgement to be a blessing to others for when we do so, He is delighted because we are taking after Him and His heart. If we don't do so and focus only on ourselves, He doesn't condemn us - but perhaps He grieves. Condemnation doesn't bring us closer to Him. The solution to that selfishness isn't condemnation, but drawing us closer to Him and His heart. Then as that happens, we slowly mature and we so long to bless Him through blessing others. I think that's the way our relationship with God works. I think this dynamic is much closer to how an unconditionally loving Father relates to His child. These are just some of my thoughts that probably need to be refined more, but I think this understanding keeps central the unconditional love of the Father without without throwing out His desire to see the whole world blessed and yet also allows for us - His sometimes or even many times stubborn yet beloved children - to mature and grow.
The objection that comes to my mind to the above understanding would be,
"Your portrayal above of God is probably too kind and loving to the selfish Christians who are focusing on themselves and using their blessings and prosperity for their own good. That kind of person is selfish and surely God would be harsher and more condemning of their actions than you are making it out to seem. In fact, if He's not unhappy with such Christians for not giving more to the poor, then isn't He in a sense condoning such selfish actions and not caring as much as He should for the less-fortunate?"
I can understand that objection and sometimes I think that way too. But ultimately, I do think this world is an inherently unfair world - because of the fallenness of man. A lot of things are not perfect and ideal. For the poor and less fortunate in this world, a lot of them are born into such poverty - just as a lot of people are born into countries and cultures and families that would mean they would almost never get to know the gospel or have the freedom to believe in Jesus. All these things are unfair just as the above situation (i.e. the fact that rich Christians focus on their own happiness and not care to compromise their standard of living in order to do the greater thing of giving to the poor) is. Ultimately, everything will be reconciled and restored. I do believe the poor and suffering in this world will be ultimately happy in future. The wrongs will be righted. Again, these are just some thoughts off the top of my head. However all this will be done, I don't exactly know, but I know God is good and He considers all things and He will make things right in the end.
[By the way, I am a pretty huge fan of Andrew Wommack. People who don't like Joseph Prince's style and "charisma", then you can look into Andrew Wommack's ministry and teachings. Both teach pretty much the same thing on Grace although Andrew Wommack is as monotonous as Pastor Prince is charismatic. I personally think Andrew Wommack is the best representation of the so-called Prosperity Gospel (see Andrew Wommack on Prosperity). From what I know of him before (I haven't closely followed his ministry for more than a decade), even though he believes in prosperity, he's extremely humble in his lifestyle (and that's the way I think it should be). While he does associate with ministers like Kenneth Copeland, whom I'm not crazy over, he is completely different from him and other Faith ministers in many ways, so I think he's an awesome representative of the movement. To his credit, while I would probably not associate that much with some of the more extreme Faith ministers, he does so because he's open to different people - and that can actually be a good thing depending on how you look at it. In a sense, I admire ministers who can reach across the aisle and fellowship and minister with people they may not fully agree with.]
1.5) Looking at the message of Grace as a whole and also independently of other held beliefs
Going back to Pastor Prince's message of Grace and my evaluation of it, the way I approach it is that I look at things as a whole. I'm not going to try and defend every single statement or claim made by Pastor Prince, especially if disagreeing with him on that point does not to take away from the main thrust of the Grace message. There could be certain particular nuances that I disagree with him about in relation to the message of Grace, but that doesn't discount the fact that overall I think it is biblical and ought to be widely heard.
Maybe I look at things very differently from many people who think they have to point out every fault of every minister. I have been exposed to so many different streams of Christianity and I've encountered all sorts of teachings. There's no way anybody who is at least a bit of a critical thinker can agree with any one person 100% - perhaps you can if you're not very critical and don't have a mind of your own. So when I look at a minister or a message, I look at the positives and the good things, and while not ignoring the areas I may disagree with, I ask myself if, from my fallible perspective, the overall good outweighs the things I may disagree with. In the case of Pastor Prince's Grace message, it is a resounding "yes".
So I like his Grace message (as a whole), I think it's biblical and I think many critics have been extremely unfair (and in doing so reflect their unfamiliarity with the historical Reformation teachings on this) and that's why I've written in defense of Joseph Prince's teachings on Grace. I don't need to agree with every single thing he says on the Grace message or even much of what he says on other issues for me to appreciate his overall Grace message.
In the same way, I definitely have some beliefs that I share (and will share more) throughout this website that may seem completely out of left field to many - and that's OK, you don't need to accept my other beliefs. What I believe in other areas shouldn't prevent you from considering what I've written here on Grace on its own merits.
All in all, I think Pastor Joseph Prince's message on Grace has blessed the body of Christ in so many ways. His message of Grace is not just a theological interest of mine, but it's really about understanding Who God is and how you ought to relate to Him and perhaps more importantly how He wants to relate to you. It's not just theoretical knowledge, but it's theological knowledge that transforms lives and shifts one's paradigm about God for the better. That's why even after all these years, I'm still so passionate about this message. And I still have some things I want to write in future about it.
1.6) Two main reasons why I appreciate Pastor Joseph Prince's message On Grace
As I've already mentioned here, the two particular areas in the "Reformed" tradition that I learned about and grappled with before knowing who Joseph Prince was, and which ultimately helped me come to appreciate Joseph Prince's Grace message when I encountered it, are:
1.6.1) The Understanding of the importance of "Redemptive-Historical" and "Biblical-Theological" preaching
Preaching sensitive to Biblical Theology is a way of preaching that always points to the fulfillment of (every) passage in Christ and His finished work no matter what passage one is preaching on, thus allowing the audience to see the beauty of "Christ and Him Crucified" and to understand their position in Him in the history of Salvation, both of which would empower the audience to live for Him. This is opposed to a more "moralistic" form of preaching which seeks to give us principles and points to live by - and especially sees Biblical Characters in the Bible as people we are to take after and follow. There's nothing wrong with the latter in moderation and in context, but if that's the focus, it won't be long before the congregation comes out of the service realizing how bad they are and how much they have fallen short of the moral standard preached - and that doesn't motivate or empower one to live for God. Instead when you see every part of the Bible pointing to Christ and His Finished Work, you come up with such amazement of God's love for us in Christ and that empowers us to want to live for Him.
1.6.2) The Understanding of the "Marrow of Modern Divinity" controversy and the "Lordship Salvation" controversy
Both deal with issues like what is "Faith", what is "Repentance", what is the relationship between the two, what is "Justification" and "Sanctification" and the relationship between the two, what role does "Obedience" and "Good Works" play in the Christian life and their proper relation to "Faith", the issue of "Assurance" and also "Antinomianism" and "Legalism". I think one would have a much more complete understanding of Antinomianism and Legalism - and the theological and especially pastoral issues surrounding both - by delving into these two controversies that occurred within the Reformed tradition. There's nothing new under the sun and in the rich theological history of the Reformed tradition it's not surprising that issues brought up by the current debate surrounding the Grace (or Hypergrace) message of Pastor Prince have been debated extensively in these two controversies - thus it is wise to understand them and learn from them.
So in my past articles, I get a bit into the above two areas (most of the time without mentioning the terms above to keep it layman friendly) and in my future articles I hope to address them even more as I think it'll help us understand and appreciate Joseph Prince's Grace message more.
1.7) Last Word: To those still not sure what to think of the Grace message - biblical or "dangerous"?
Finally, if you're struggling with whether Pastor Prince's Grace message is biblical or not, come with an open heart and mind, read what's written below, pray to God to ask Him to guide you and then ultimately come to your own decision based on the merits of the biblical arguments put forth and how God leads you. If you disagree with me and Pastor Prince, that's fine. Ultimately, it's between you and God and I will still love you even if you think what's written here is dangerous or even "demonic" - and even if you think my writings are "demonically inspired" and that Pastor Prince and I will go to hell.
Most importantly, seek Him and focus on your relationship with Him. And in the end, believe what you feel God wants you to believe. That's something only between you and God and I would never want to come between the two of you. For me, I treasure my relationship with Him and always ask Him to lead me, guide me and teach me.
If you're sincerely struggling to know what to think of the Grace message and you think I could help in any way and would like to communicate with me, feel free to drop me a message in the contact form below and I would love to help in any way I can!
2) All The 36 Articles
The articles below are listed in chronological order. There's a lot below (50,000+ words & 450+ comments) and some articles are much longer than others. If you just want to choose a few, I'd recommend these: 01, 04, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32, 34, 35.