Exegesis: You’re Doing it WrongDecember 31, 2011
When it comes to mishandling Scripture, few people can match the death-defying logical leaps of biblical daredevil Joseph Prince. Pastor of Singapore megachurch New Creation Church, Prince has been invited to speak at various Hillsongs conferences and Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. His television show, Destined to Reign, reaches millions daily.
What makes a pastor such a coveted international speaker? Sound, grammatical-historical biblical interpretation, you say? No. That would be boring. What people really want is an approach to Scripture that makes the Bible seem like a puzzle book with “Jabez Prayer”-like secrets waiting to be unlocked by the newest hermeneutical Evel Knievel.
Here’s an excerpt from one of this week’s devotional gems at JosephPrinceonline.com:
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
The verse says that the grace of God was upon Jesus. The Bible also says that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. (Romans 5:20) And when you put the two together, you may find yourself asking, “If the grace of God was upon Jesus, does it mean that He sinned?”
No, Jesus did not sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) So there must be another explanation as to why God’s grace was upon Jesus. There must be another explanation as to why someone can abound in God’s grace even when he has not sinned.
Let’s look at the word “grace” when it is first mentioned in the Bible. Genesis 6:8 says that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. Noah’s name means “rest”. So the verse is telling us that rest found grace. In other words, when you rest, you find grace!
So grace was upon Jesus because His life was a life of rest and trust in His Father.
Noah’s name means rest.
Noah found grace.
Therefore, rest found grace.
Therefore, if we rest, we will find grace.
See how easy that was? No need for those expensive Bible commentaries and long hours studying Hebrew. All you need is a Hebrew name book. Let’s try some ourselves.
Esau means hairy.
In Malachi 1, God says, “I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated…”
Therefore, God hates hairy people.
Let’s try a Noah one.
Noah means rest.
After the flood, Noah got drunk and exposed himself.
Therefore, when we rest, we should get drunk and … hmm … perhaps this is one of those “don’t try this at home” interpretive stunts.
Good exegesis is hard. It requires lots of study and knowledge of the original languages, culture and context. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Joseph Prince, the author of Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living, prefers an easier hermeneutical approach.
Charisma magazine profiled Prince last year. It would seem that Prince’s interpretive approach lends itself to a word-of-faith type message. The article quotes Prince’s book, Unmerited Favor:
Because of the cross, we can today expect good, we can expect success, we can expect promotion, increase and the abundant life. It is all because of our wonderful Lord Jesus. If we have Him, we have everything and more, and can be a blessing to others.
His message is, predictably, popular in the U.S., where his televised services are broadcast on TBN, ABC Family Channel and several other networks. Charisma quotes one enthused viewer:
Linda Lee Bingham of New Jersey said understanding grace has enabled her to better trust and rest in God. “Good things are popping into my life faster than I can imagine,” she says. “I started a new business project a few months ago and already have 10 employees. The work is finished on the cross, and I’m just enjoying the ride.”
That’s right Linda Lee. Jesus bled on the cross so that you could get your Amway business off the ground. PTL!
To get a real flavor for the interpretive stylings of Joseph Prince, check out the video below. Skip ahead to the 9:00 minute mark to learn:
- that Luke 21:25-26 contains a prediction of the March 2011 Japanese tsunami and nuclear crisis;
- that ouranos [misspelled uranos by Prince] is the ancient Greek word for uranium [an element first discovered in 1789 AD]; and
- that taking communion will neutralize the radiation in your body from the Japanese nuclear leak.
Can’t get enough Prince? In this next video, Prince explains how the book of Deuteronomy and the cartoonish map in the back of his Bible enabled him to predict the discovery of an offshore natural gas deposit near (actually, nowhere near) Haifa.
Kind of makes Harold Camping look like a top-notch biblical scholar, doesn’t he?