Former member of New Creation Church in Singapore shares the deceit of Joseph Prince’s teachings, causing her to be numb to sin.
I attended New Creation Church (NCC) pastored by Joseph Prince in Singapore from 2002-2004, at the Rock at Suntec City. At that time, I came out fresh from City Harvest Church (CHC).
I was still a Charismatic then, and I was fresh out of CHC. My now ex-CHC cell group leader, let’s call her Cailynn, and the other cell group members have all ignored and disowned me, and even refused to respond to my friendly SMSes of asking how they were. To them, I was a “hopeless backslider”. Prior to leaving CHC, Cailynn and other leaders have warned me of going to NCC because of their watered-down gospel via cheap grace, that their heresy is “you can be saved and still sin”.
Come to think of it, how ironic it is, when CHC itself has so many heretical doctrines preached in their congregation, yet they have no problem pointing out NCC’s. For one, CHC does not believe that a person can keep their salvation, but it can be lost through bad works and sin. However, both CHC and NCC are embracers of the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith (WOF), and are friends of similar WOF teachers such as Brian Houston, Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn.
I came to be more curious of NCC as a result of the bad press that CHC gave on NCC.
Right after I left CHC, I wasted no time in attending NCC shortly.
When I first saw Joseph Prince on stage, I was pleased and comfortable that he was a funny, charismatic and an engaging preacher who would not put me to sleep. His preaching was not as bad or deadly as CHC claimed. In fact, both CHC and NCC stood for the WOF and believes in the apostolic gifts. However, one thing that stood out in his preaching was his emphasis on how Jesus’ death not only took away our sins, but sin was imputed on Him, and that we can never lose our salvation. My heart skipped a beat. It was something I never heard in CHC since they emphasized so much on the prosperity message and little on the cross and on Christ. But Joseph Prince was different – he preached so much on Christ. He pointed out verses to substantiate those claims. I was getting extremely confused. For the first time, I realised what it meant that our works cannot earn our salvation, but to know that you can’t lose it by our bad works or sin? That was something brand new to me. It was refreshing and scary at the same time.
Over the next few weekends, I attended service and got to understand more about Christ’s imputed righteousness and His finished work on the cross. It was like an awakening for me to realise that I can never lose my salvation because of what Christ did, not what I did to gain it. I cried tears of joy at home for hours thinking of it, the chains of fear of “losing my salvation” and that I am never good enough to go to heaven finally loosed.
Of course, JP added to this core teaching the prosperity message, and other subtle heresies. I decided to make NCC my church and proudly so. I approached this lady next to me during the service, who invited me to her care group (another name for cell group). I was hesitant because of my bad experience with CHC’s cell groups. Nevertheless, I attended and was impressed by how they were not pushy like CHC members. However, I did not commit to it as my cultic experience with CHC prevented me from wanting to be bound to a group. Hence, I continued my visit as an (unregistered) member, without being part of any care group. I valued the independence and the freedom as a result, and the fact that NCC members never pushed me to register nor come to their care groups.
I chatted with an old man who came from a conservative baptist church, and he claimed that once he attended NCC, he felt God “revealed” to him in ways he never was exposed to in the conservative circle. In fact, many NCC members migrated from conservative churches to the more liberal NCC, because to them, the atmosphere and teaching had “anointing and power”. The old man explained how God “came into his room” and that he felt his presence so much that he could not lift his head up. Coming to think of it now, I realised how much Satan can disguise as an angel of light, because God will not mix His Word with heresy, neither will He approve those who are in heresy.
I noticed that unlike CHC, NCC
– never pressured people to tithe
– never push members to invite their friends
– did not force the sign gifts on people
– did not impose their ways on people
While Kong Hee was a pushy salesman, Joseph Prince was your friendly neighbour next door. Kong Hee employed hard tactics, JP used a soft sell approach. Kong Hee emphasized “step-by-step” guides to achieve God’s blessings, JP emphasized on (blind) faith. Both heretics used extreme ends of the tactics to garner the same WOF results, but it was not hard to see why JP won me over, and won many others over, including those from CHC.
I endorsed NCC quickly to my friends, some of whom were won over. My sister and her husband (who was already attending before I attended) attended NCC with their kids, so did my ex-classmate (let’s call her Mandy) who was a heavy CHC critic. Everyone loved JP for his charisma.
However, as time passed by, I noticed the effects on how JP’s teachings got to me and others.
JP preached so much on “Jesus”-centric teachings and “God has a wonderful plan for your life” kind of themes that they sounded positive because he covered the negative aspects of the Bible in order to preach attractive versions. His teachings was so one-sided that I felt starved of solid Bible teachings in other areas. It was always grace, grace, grace. How about the other multi-dimensional teachings of the Bible that addresses other areas of life and other spiritual issues? You can imagine his followers would parrot the same answer to different questions, because they knew little of other things.
When difficulties and struggles came, it’s not a surprise that there were followers who doubted their faith and felt anger and “betrayed” by God who could not grant such things that JP claims that one will get.
I was appalled to learn that the Sunday school at NCC do not teach the Ten Commandments to the kids, because we are “no longer under the law”. The Ten Commandments was despised by JP, saying that it was irrelevant and he even gave the ridiculous analogy that if a child was shown the law, he or she will be more tempted to break it. Did he not read that Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17-18), or that the law was made for sinners (1 Timothy 1:9) to reveal their sins, or that the law plays a part in converting a soul (Psalm 19:7-9, see also Romans)? Even Kong Hee preached the Ten Commandments and revealed how we sinned before God, and at least he mentioned hell!
I do not recall a single time JP ever addressed the issue of sin or hell. Even if he does mention sin, he does not address it in depth nor properly define it. All he did was preach a seemingly convincing sermon, and then call upon people to say the sinner’s prayer. It’s all “come to Jesus to get saved so that you can be healed, have your best life now, be happy, be fulfilled, etc”. This is NO gospel!
It was only because of the law-heavy CHC teachings that I could come to the grace and knowledge of salvation of Christ through the grace preaching of NCC. If I did not know the law, I would not have known what sin is (1 John 3:4), and without the law, I would not have understood grace nor see the need for a Saviour. Both churches were on the extreme ends, that if one was not taught in one to understand the other, it was nearly impossible to get saved in either.
Because of this, NCC members were hardly corrected of their sins. To confront one directly was considered “ungracious” and “binding someone back to the law”! Did not Paul corrected and rebuked those in the Corinthian Church? 2 Timothy 4:2 writes, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”
Even though I was a Charismatic, I sure did know that if you did not correct someone of their sin, that was a folly! But within me, I used the same excusing reasoning, that because JP is “anointed” and if he was right about one thing, he was “right” about other things. I chose to overlooked this as a “small issue”. As a result of his teachings, I grew numb to sin and Mandy admitted she no longer felt guilty if she did wrong. The same was for another friend that I invited, but she only last in NCC for a few weeks and stopped, smart enough to see something was wrong with JP’s teachings when she revealed that she did not feel guilty about sin after attending NCC.
This was Once-saved-always-saved (OSAS) taken to the extreme, rightly called cheap grace, and not biblical OSAS which teaches otherwise.
Even worse, JP said the God gave the law to Israel because they said to God that they will obey it instead of telling God that they cannot fulfil it. He forget that God gave the law for them as command to them in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, to set Israel apart from other nations(Deuteronomy 7:7-9, 1 Peter 2:9), that God is holy and to be feared (Leveticus 19:2), and ultimately reveal to humanity the need for a Saviour (Romans 6:14-23).
The old man shared with me how he once met a Christian young man who loved to spew vulgarities even in front of non-Christian friends. Even though this guy believed in Christ, he continued his foul mouth. The old man responded to him that he is still righteous in Christ even though he is sad that this young man does such things, because “we are under grace not law”. That appalled me to think that the old man would not dare correct the young man outrightly that his vulgarities are wrong! Of course, JP over-emphasizes John 16:7-11 that the Holy Spirit will not convict believers of sin but righteousness…he forget the proceeding verse 13 which says the Holy Spirit will guide us into ALL truth, that includes sin (1 John 1:8-10) and nullifies other verses in the NT where believers were clearly corrected and disciplined of sin by name, BECAUSE of righteousness.
I led a life of sin during CHC because I thought I was never good enough for God, and now I was sinning just as much at NCC because no matter what I did, I won’t lose my salvation. Christ’s death was used as a liberty to sin. Even though JP said that we should not use salvation as an excuse to sin, he sure wasn’t correcting sin either, contrary to Galatians 6:1, 1 Timothy 5:20 , James 5:19 – 5:20 and 1 Timothy 5:20. Not only that, you just can NEVER say Joseph Prince was wrong. It’s not a written rule, but it will earn you a frown if you point out his mistakes. Members will explain his errors away, and dismiss your doubts as having “little faith” or doubting “God’s anointed”, or that he is not perfect.
JP’s ecumenical teachings meant that not only that anyone and everyone was welcome, anyone who claims to believe in Christ is saved, and that includes Catholics, whose doctrines are contrary to the fundamentals of the faith.
NCC had these free monthly magazines they would distribute to each member. One issue that struck me was a comic illustration of Jesus with the adulteress whom the pharisees wanted to stone (John 8:3-11), but Jesus saved her and told her that He neither condemned her and that she was to sin no more. Not only is the drawing of the image of Jesus wrong and unbiblical, what was more disturbing was the text that followed, that said along the lines that Jesus is never angry and never upset with us, and will never convict us of sin but of righteousness, flying in the face of John 16:8-9. This happens to be one of JP’s popular teachings on how we should deal with sinners, forgetting that John 8:3-11 was in fact Jesus’ response to the pharisees, who were trying to trap Him in His words so that they could kill him before His time. Take note that they had the right to stone her (Leviticus 20:10) according to the law. In vs 7, Jesus said “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” was not him telling them to break the law, but to expose the self-righteousness in the pharisees and counter their evil intentions which was to trap Him. He pardoning the woman was a sign that He was clearly the Messiah, God in the flesh. JP clearly took this verse out of context and the same for many other verses too.
Worse, JP said that we did not have to confess our sins, and that by doing so it will make us “sin-conscious” and make us doubt our salvation. He claimed that 1 John 1:9 was where John was addressing the gnostics who doubted Jesus came in the flesh, and therefore not applicable to us. However, just because it may be so, it does not mean it does not apply to us. He forgot that John tells us to whom this also applies to in 1 John 2:1,28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21, 2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1; 7; 11, that John was clearly writing it to the Christians, and he addressed the errors of false teachings in his day.
We confess our sin not in the sense we think we lose our salvation if we don’t, but because of what Christ did and what the Word of God says of sin, that we constantly need His grace in dealing with our daily struggles, and to conform more like Christ. Even Paul dealt and exposed the sins within the Corinthian church.
JP obviously confused justification and sanctification.
No wonder the view of the seriousness of sin is tossed aside in NCC! NCC’s definition of unconditional love means to tolerate sin, rather than to rebuke it, to welcome all rather than discipline those who were living in sin and influencing others in sin as a result.
If someone were to ask me which person would have a higher chance to convert to the true faith, in my opinion, it would be a CHC member because at least they knew the wretchedness of sin more than an NCC member.
I remembered JP once said that Jesus overturning the tables in the temple does not imply that Jesus was angry. He created a Jesus that was all nice, cuddly and welcoming while the holiness and fear of God took the backseat. He also overlooked the severity of Satan being a threat to the church, because in his words, 1 Peter 5:8 calls Satan a roaring lion, which means Satan is stupid because “lions don’t roar when chasing a prey”. He forgotten the next phrase that says “…walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”.
Because of his firm belief that the sign gift of healing is for today, JP preached (and still does) that holy communion would open doors to physical healing. As Mandy was deaf in one ear, she decided to follow this, but till now her ear remains deaf. JP once boasted that he wanted God to keep him looking this youthful even till his old age. Fast forward to today, JP has aged since the first time I saw him.
I looked through their website then and noticed uncomfortably that in order to serve in the ministry or be a registered member, one must prove to have tithed and be in attendance with a caregroup for at least 6 months (see another ex-NCC member’s testimony). This was contrary to CHC which expected one to serve almost immediately after one becomes a member. Even contrary to the Bible! There was a clear difference between a registered and non-registered member, one of which the latter could not qualify for financial aid even if he or she had contributed monetarily.
Much more monstrous was the fact that he was paid S$50,000 a month. How I knew this before it was exposed to the public years later? The information was divulged to my sister by a NCC ministry worker, who told her not to reveal the information to the public. But my sister shared in hushed tones that I could not reveal this, and see that JP is blessed and paid highly because the church “wanted to” pay him that amount. Only after the scandal of CHC did we see JP taken off the payroll, and neither did he confirm nor deny the $50K salary prior.
In time, I relocated overseas, and settled in with a much smaller charismatic church. Whenever I came back to Singapore, I attended NCC, but the megachurch wave was beginning to wear me off. I appreciated the small setting of my new charismatic church and the dedicated attention they could give to individuals, which a megachurch can’t do. I was mega sick of the celebrity status of popular pastors and the undying love that people give towards these people more than they do towards God. The love for material things as a result of the name-it-claim-it was making me miss the simple faith I was once taught as a child which included not to love the things of this world. The small charismatic church I attended overseas was more real and had better teachings despite their questionable doctrines, but they were friendly, not that materialistic and a world far away from WOF. Not all charismatics believe in WOF, but they certainly believed that the apostolic gifts are for today.
Time passed and I moved towns, settling in another charismatic church. One day, while being totally happy and content in my charismatic world, I decided out of curiosity to check out YouTube videos criticising Benny Hinn and other WOF teachers that I so respected. I thought I would just laugh it off thereafter, because Kong Hee and Joseph Prince are always making fun of their critics and gave template reasons to why these critics were just so sad and why their churches are small. But I thought to give a listening ear to the other side for once in my life.
But lo and behold!
In one video, it exposed why the WOF was wrong and heretic with sound bible reasoning that I never heard of, reasons that were contrary to what Kong Hee and JP gave – far from it! I checked out video after video exposing the WOF and the charismatic movement. Within a week, I was so convinced that I cried before the Lord, asking Him why I was trapped this long and thanking Him for bringing me out and I knew I had to convince my current church that this was wrong.
I shared with them what I found out, but was met with disagreements and unease, and in some cases, anger. When I came back to Singapore, I shared with my charismatic friends and family members the errors of the charismatic teachings, but was disappointed by their hardened hearts, and wondered how can they not accept or see the truth the way that I did. The more I shared, the more they did not want to have anything to do with me. Friendships that were formed over the years in Charismatic churches ceased by disagreements in doctrines. Even my mother accused me of being a backslider and got my uncle to scold me to “repent”. Some of them have even coined up stories and assumptions about me which were not true.
Since I left the charismatic movement, I lost precious fellowship with friends and loved ones, and was struggling in my lonely journey throughout the years, in pain and in tears. I finally understood first hand what Jesus meant in Matthew 10:34-40. It took more than 7 years to unlearn everything, and relearn the Bible the way it’s supposed to be, expounding it verse by verse, rightly dividing the truth and studying it in its context. This journey has not been a smooth one and I have stumbled many times and encountered a lot of depressing and breaking encounters. But God is good.
What I have lost, He replaced with biblical, like-minded friends along the way, friends who truly and genuinely loved me regardless if I was having my best life now or if I was part of their assembly or not. The comfort and happiness that I had in the last leg of my life in the charismatic movement were now replaced with maturity and security in the midst of tribulations and eternal joy.
Today, when I look at JP’s posts and videos, I cannot help but cringe. His sermons would cause me to nauseat within 5 minutes of listening now that I see through the eyes of the Bible how he twists Scripture, and I get angry at how his teachings led me and others not to fear the Lord as we should. It’s scary to think that JP can tell truth with error that those who do not study the Bible can’t discern.
As my testimony shows, one does not necessarily have to come to a place of hurt in order to leave the charismatic movement. It was during my time of happiness and contentment that the Lord pulled me out.
I can only pray and hope that those who are still entangled by this false preacher can see the light through God’s Word alone.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Peter 2:1-3 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Admin 1 of Ex-Charismatics