|City Harvest Church looses staff and members|
The news report that City Harvest Church will be moving to Suntec in March 2011 was an anti-climax to the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Pastor Kong Hee currently under investigation for more than 10 months now. They had to limp to Suntec, the size allocated at Suntec substantially reduced and limited use to the weekends only. To the many who had contributed much to the building fund, it must have been heart breaking coupled with the many unresolved questions of improprietry.
The news that long serving Pastors such as Tan Chee Kiang leaving, and the number of attendance dropping to half from 30,000 would have been very disconcerting to Pastor Kong who has built up this great church in Singapore. Where have these members gone, were they discouraged, or simply taking time off from attending church and reflecting on the situation. They would have contributed much to the building fund and doubts would have crept in.
In the "D-day" of the building fund in March? 2010 where the plans to Suntec was officially announced, Pastor Kong mentioned the one thing he would regret most, that was to dissapoint the church members.
What a difference 12 months have made, key people leaving the church and the church population halved. However, the remaining numbers of 15,000 still makes CHC the largest church in Singapore.
The numb silence of the response from the National Council of Churches and the responses to the news in Yahoo, shows that the strong support for Pastor Kong may have slackened over the past 10 months. Much fewer were the die hard defenders of Pastor Kong Hee.
The Blog Pastor in June 2010 talks about the media having a hidden agenda to report it front page! But there wasn't an ulterior motive just simply sensational news of the early morning raid of the largest church in Singapore and more than a dozen being questioned at length. Revelations thereafter in the media showed that there was indeed substance to the claims contrary to Blog Pastor's blanket asertion and faith in Pastor Kong that the intentions were all noble, good and pure. Churches also have a tendency to condemn others as immoral with much spin and lies against the GLBT community. And so, what was sowed, was reaped. Ten months later, there was silence even from the Blog Pastor.
The issue with City Harvest was a matter of theology where they deemed the church and the marketplace ie business as one. In reality, they are governed by different laws, and charity is not for business, ie not for profit to proclaim a prosperity teaching. The issue was also unclear in the bible, with Abraham, Joseph, David, and Solomon depicted as very rich patriachs whilst Jesus born in a manger. Pastor Kong's attempt to depict Jesus as physically rich to be consistent with his prosperity theology was not supported in the bible. But how can one argue that God had not prospered CHC and Pastor Kong, with Kong having a few boutiques at Orchard, and traveled with luxury and fame throughout the world. His foray of SGD 310 million into Suntec was the penulminate.
Few would be persecuted because of the prosperity theology in the West, because it is not a sin to be prosperous and rich. However, added to this marketplace theology was a religious theocracy where the church was to dominate the Government, Business, Education, Arts, Religion, media, and Family. The Domination theology or seven kingdoms theology was the underlying factor behing the Festival of Praise, Love Singapore, and the Transformation 2009 conference with Ed siloso. There was a master plan by Peter C Wagner to conquer nations for Christ by Christians being the "Joel's army" exerting their influence in Government and Business.
Unknown to many was that such Domination theology has its birth at a conference at Glen Eyrie by the Christian Right in the early 90s where a plan was set into motion to leverage on Christians as a political activist movement. The resultant Glen Eyrie protocol planned to use Gays as a wedge issue and scapegoat to energize the movement leveraged on a ficticious "Militant Gay Agenda". Such religious activism has worked in America, so why not export it to Singapore.
The greatest irony however was that City Harvest has often emphasised on the law, and have been critical of churches that emphasised grace in what it calls Antinomianism. Now, they may be judged by the letter of the law whom they have so eagerly emphasised instead of God's grace and mercy. Hitherto they have also been very quick to support the condemnation of Gays in support of Sy Rogers fomerly of Choices/ Church of Our Saviour.
We are reminded of an old song "I have decided to follow Jesus" by Sundar Singh. It talks of making a decision to follow Jesus, a decision to focus on the Cross and turning our backs on the mountains of the World. It is not a popular call like the masses of people following after a mega church leader, for "though none go with me, still I will follow". For Sundar did not see life as a bed of roses, but hardship, the Cross speaking of the burdens we need to bear to preach the Gospel and we will often wonder the price we had to pay to follow Christ, but still "I will follow".
"I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord," he said, "but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God."
In 1929, Sadhu Sundar Singh set of for a journey to Tibet. He was 40 years old, and was never seen again. Surely he never looked back. Like Jesus, he did not have much worldly belongings, no business suites, no BMW, no Mercedes, no 500K per year pay, or mansion beside the Ganges. Still I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.