This is the first in what may be a series of posts. From the onset, I want to make it clear I do not have anything against Pastor Joseph Prince as a person. I do believe he is a brother in Christ and desires to make the gospel of Jesus known. What I am concerned about is his theology. Let me begin by sharing a true life story (I shall use short forms for names for privacy).
It was several years ago when an acquaintance of mine, J, contacted me with an unusual request. She wanted me to visit and pray for someone. Uncle J was a patient she was attending to and he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The reason why it seemed an unusual request was because I knew J to be quite antagonistic towards the Christian faith. When I ventured to ask why she asked me to visit and pray for Uncle J, she replied in essence, “You’re the only sane Christian I know. Some others have been coming to visit and saying weird things to him.”
It turned out that Uncle J and his family attended New Creation Church (NCC). J recounted several instances of what his cellgroup/church mates had been telling him. Without going into details, it invariably involved Uncle J being completely healed of his cancer. There was one particular instance I remember. I was visiting Uncle J in the hospital when several of his friends from NCC came to visit. They encouraged him, prayed for him, and then suggested that he take holy communion. *As an aside, this seems like a core tenet of Pastor Joseph’s/NCC’s theology – healing through partaking the holy communion. However, they did not check with the doctor/nurse whether it was ok for Uncle J to do so. And soon after Uncle J took the communion, his body started rejecting the elements, he started vomiting.
After I visited Uncle J a couple of times, things seemed to be looking up. Uncle J seemed to be responding to cancer treatment (chemotherapy). He was not losing weight as before. My acquaintance, J, was delighted. I jokingly told her, “Those New Creation people aren’t so bad after all”, but she would have none of it.
Fast forward several months, when out of the blue, I received a message from J. She said, “Uncle J is dying. He may not make it through the night.” I rushed down to his house immediately. When I arrived at Uncle J’s home, a group of his church friends were already there. They were singing songs of worship and proclaiming and praying complete healing over Uncle J. And I had an internal struggle. Now, I do believe that God is the God of miracles, I do believe He can heal cancer if He so desires. But it’s not always His will here on earth to eradicate all sickness and disease; and this was contradictory to what they were telling Uncle J. They were telling Uncle J he was going to be healed.
At close to midnight, the group from NCC were leaving. Said their goodbyes to the tune of “see you in the morning”. Half an hour later, I was sitting by Uncle J’s bed, along with J, and Uncle J’s wife, Aunty S. And Uncle J breathed his final breath. Uncle J was dead.
What should I do? I did what I believe God would have wanted me to. I gathered Uncle J’s family and prayed for them and comforted them with the assurance from the Word of God. That eternal life is Uncle J’s because of faith in Jesus Christ. That heaven was his final resting place, away from sickness and pain and sorrow. That there would be a grand reunion because heaven is the eternal home for all believers in Christ.
In the days following, I visited Aunty S. She had questions and struggles. And it was along the lines of, “Why did God allow this to happen? Was it a lack of faith on Uncle J’s part? But Uncle J really believed that he would be healed. In fact, that’s why he WENT OFF CHEMO (I didn’t know that). :(”
Those few visits after Uncle J’s death was tough, but I had the opportunity to share with her what Scripture said and perhaps present her with the possible flaws in NCC theology. At the end of the day, the most important thing was to help Aunty S re-connect with God, and not be disappointed with Him. (end)
ps: The motivation behind this post (and perhaps more to follow) is to discuss theology. I have many friends from NCC, and so I risk alienating them or losing their friendship. But theology is important. Pastor Joseph Prince often emphasises the importance of right believing, and I agree. And I would add this: right believing must come out of right theology. I hope my contribution will add to this pursuit.