Incorrect: Kong Hee say we love God because of what we can give him
October 17, 2013 by SLIMJIM
In Singapore, one of the largest Charismatic Church is City Harvest Church. Its sphere of influence can be seen not just in Singapore but in its affiliated ministries which reach Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia. Their founder and Senior Pastor is Kong Hee who himself is also very influential, being a popular speaker among the South East Asian circles of Christianity.
In June 2012, Kong Hee was arrested by Singaporean authorities for the misuse of church funds for personal gain.
As of October 8th, 2013, according to the Christian Post, “The trial of Singapore’s popular pastor Kong Hee, who is accused of spending $41 million of church funds on his wife’s singing career, has now gone on recess and will not resume until January 2014.”
Even with all the scandal going on Kong Hee continues to pastor the church.
The courts and investigative reporters will do their job at uncovering the truth of the matter concerning his corruption. Here in this post I wish to critique his message on a theological basis with concerns for the affirmation of the Gospel.
On September 21st 2013, City Harvest service was extended with the following time of worship. Obviously, with the trials and the scandal one can imagine it’s a trying time for Kong Hee and his church which is the context to the following clip:
I watch the whole clip and I was sadden to see the lack of the Gospel in it. You know, that Jesus died for our sins, that we are guilty before a Holy God and that we are saved by Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. One might say in his defense that he might have shared the Gospel before or after this clip. I suppose one must be charitable but I also wonder if perhaps the Gospel itself should be even more paramount during a time like this for the church.
All that aside, I must say however that I was most disturbed at what Kong Hee has to say beginning at minute 6:43 of the clip:
Look at the pastor for a moment. You know it’s precisely moments like this, seasons like this, that our worship to God is so precious that we are letting God know that we love him not because of what we can get, we love him because of what we can give, we can give him our worship when it’s not convenient to come to church but we still come to church week after week, when it’s not convenient to pray and yet we pray for our leaders and we pray for the ministry of city harvest, when it’s not convenient to give and we keep on giving because we want to arise and build God a great house in our generation to bring him glory.”
This is at the heart of my concern. It’s not just a circumstantial evidence of absence of the Gospel that I’m criticizing but the fact that his statement above is imcompatible with the Gospel in the Bible. I’m not saying here he does not know the Gospel, maybe he does (I am going to listen more of him) and didn’t see through the logical implication of what he’s saying in relations to the Gospel but the logical minimum we can say is that the quote has serious theological error and one that the Gospel should correct when we start unpacking it.
First off, I want to be charitable. One can see some truth to his statement, “we are letting God know that we love him not because of what we can get…” To use the preachers’ cliche, God is not just merely a “Vending Machine” as a means to get something else more greater that we enjoy. God can not be reduced to a Genie in a bottle so to speak.
Secondly, the problem becomes evident when Hee starts explaining why is it that WE DO LOVE GOD. And what he has to say lacks Scriptural support. Note his words, “we love him because of what we can give…” What? We love God because of what we can give Him? Now preachers can sometime say things they don’t mean accidentally ( I will always remember the time I preached and asked who here wants to go to hell tonight). But I don’t think Hee accidently said something he didn’t mean because Hee, never missing a beat with the prosperity gospel of giving to God (Hee’s church) goes on to give examples of what it is we can give: ”we can give him our worship when it’s not convenient to come to church but we still come to church week after week, when it’s not convenient to pray and yet we pray for our leaders and we pray for the ministry of city harvest, when it’s not convenient to give and we keep on giving because we want to arise and build God a great house in our generation to bring him glory.” Where in the Bible can he (e) find the evidence that We love God on the basis of what we can give him?
Thirdly, I would also say that the Word of God clearly contradicts Hee’s claim that we love God because of what we can give him. Note 1 John 5:9-10:
By this the love of God was manifested [a]in us, that God has sent His [b]only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Verse 9 clearly show that God does “give” to those saved as a way of revealing His love to us. His love was manifested in sending His Son to give us life. Jesus is “given” to us who are saved. It’s only within this contextual flow of what God does first to initiate His love that we approach verse 10. Note verse 10 statement of what that love means: “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The Gospel is really INSPITE of our love (“not that we loved God”). I don’t think we should think so highly of our natural love for God but we should esteem God’s love first.
We don’t love God because of what we can give God. We love God because of God’s love first. Heed the words of 1 John 4:19:
We love, because He first loved us.“
And of course logically “We love, because He first loved us”≠ “We love, because of what we can give..”
Fourthly, I must add a greater problem with this we love “ because of what we can give..” is that it is man-centered and not God-centered. God is the one that loves us on the basis of what He Himself desires to give to us. That’s because we don’t deserve anything in of ourselves as creatures and sinners, and God being our Creator, Judge and Savior. What is Hee saying, and what does it show about Hee’s hubris in his theology when we are saying we love God because of what we can give? Isn’t this rank arrogance? Blasphemy? The worst form of a gospel of works righteousness?