A Letter To Vincent Cheung

The following letter (e-mail) was sent out on December 5, 2010 (I received no reply from Mr. Cheung):

Hi, Vincent —

My name is Chris Duncan. I have read much of your writings and much of them are very solid — especially your writings on the sovereignty of God and active, efficient causation of sin, and the so-called “problem of evil.” But not all of what you write is solid, but damnably heretical. It is the heretical that my comments (below) address.

To give you an idea of where I am theologically, see the following links:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/deadignor.htm

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/marriage.htm

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/wcf.htm

https://agrammatos.wordpress.com/

http://www.calvinism.us/

In December of 2006 I wrote to you regarding this quote (you didn’t respond):

“More than a few Christians have succumbed to the teaching that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have bodies. These believers do not realize that the doctrine is a heresy, and that it is closer to a Mormon doctrine than a Christian one” (Vincent Cheung, Systematic Theology, p. 53).

Anyway here are some comments by me on one of your recent entries:

Jesus Christ, or Nothing At All (by Vincent Cheung)

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)

Some aspects of Jesus’ ministry were very attractive. His preaching carried authority and conveyed truth, defied man-made traditions, and relieved the people from the burdens imposed on them by the religious establishment. Then, there were the miracles, hundreds and hundreds of miracles. He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, and multiplied food. Contrary to those who attempt to undermine the place of miracles, not all those who sought signs and wonders did it out of unworthy motives, such as to satisfy their curiosity or their stomachs. Many of them had genuine and desperate needs, and they came to Jesus in faith. All those blind men and lepers were not looking for amusement, but help from their God. The Lord did not rebuke them, but he commended them and healed them.

That said, there were indeed many who followed him that did not strive to understand him or to obey his teachings. Jesus was deliberate in chasing away insincere seekers. He preached some of the scariest messages, and often behaved in a manner calculated to push people away. I had counseled some believers, who after reading his Sermon on the Mount, feared that they were never converted.

No surprise there. Cheung believes that true Christians can be unsure of whether or not God has shone in their hearts in order to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). In other words Cheung, like most among the professing Calvinist world, believe that true Christians can doubt their salvation. For more on the subject of doubting and assurance see the article “Faith is Assurance”:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/faithassur.htm

A sermon on Romans 8:15-16:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/romans51.htm

And the relevant section on assurance in the article, “The Wicked Westminster Confession”:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/wcf.htm

Cheung continues:

“A rich man eagerly came to him and inquired about salvation. He told him to give everything away, and the man left, saddened. Jesus gave hard teachings to the people. He told them that he was the bread that came down from heaven, and that he would ascend to where he was before. And he said that no one could come to him unless the Father enabled him. From then on, many of those who followed him turned back, and no longer followed.

Christians need to learn the difference between running after a lost sheep and inviting a wolf into the sheepfold. The sheep may be wayward, but it knows the shepherd’s voice, and it will not follow a stranger. On the other hand, a wolf is governed by its self-interest, and its hunger for satisfaction. Due to their spiritual insecurity and desperation to produce an appearance of success, Christians have gathered multitudes of wolves into the church. The sheep run for their lives, and sometimes the safest move is to leave the sheepfold, where the person in charge is nothing but a hireling anyway.”

“Christians have gathered multitudes of wolves into the church,” Cheung says. Have they? Cheung is calling those who cater to wolves, “Christian.” In an ironic twist, it is Cheung who is inviting wolves into the sheepfold when he calls those who do so, “Christians.”

Cheung writes:

“The Lord was not desperate for followers. He knew that a man could not come to him unless the Father enabled and compelled him. And he knew that he would lose none of those whom the Father had given into his hands. So he turned to his closest disciples and asked if they wanted to leave as well. Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ For them, it was Jesus Christ, or nothing at all. Those who left did not think like this. So they were never true disciples. They were walking along with Jesus, but their hearts were somewhere else.

I had been seeking salvation for a while before I was converted. I knew it was only through Jesus Christ that anyone could be saved. And I wanted it. I wanted it more than anything else. I did not need any ‘seeker friendly’ ministry. What was at work within me could not be destroyed by a few harsh words or hard sayings. If you had told me that I was a sinner, that I was a useless piece of garbage, I would have said, ‘Yes, I know. Please help me.’ If you had said that I was a fool, that I was the most stupid person who ever lived, I would have said, ‘That’s how I feel too. Please teach me.’ You could have kicked me in the face and I would have thanked you, if you would only teach me how to come to Christ.

There was no other option, and there was nothing to go back to. Without Christ, my life was over. That was it. For me, it was Jesus Christ, or nothing at all. I did not know then that God was already at work, that this earnest desire for salvation through Jesus Christ was the initial effect of an invincible divine summons to faith.”

This is perhaps the “Cheungian” version of “Holy Spirit conviction,” where supposedly the Spirit is working while for a time leaving men ignorant of the only grounds of acceptance before God.

Cheung:

“Finally, I apprehended him, because he first apprehended me, and in a moment, divine love and mercy invaded my heart, and the power of sin was broken. Before this, I did not think that I would enter the ministry – I took it for granted that I was not good enough. But after that day, I knew that I must dedicate my life to serve the Lord Jesus, and I took it for granted that I could never do anything else.

The work of the Holy Spirit is robust, not fragile. You can beat on it again and again with a hammer, and all you will get is a broken hammer. A Pentecostal minister said that he could not talk to people before he preached, or the anointing would leave. The Bible indeed says that the Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. This may mean that the Spirit is pure, but surely it does not mean that he is a wimp. And a Pentecostal should at least consult Acts 2, where the Spirit came as a mighty wind and as tongues of fire. The Spirit would scare you off before you scare him off.”

The Biblical view of the work of the Holy Spirit is indeed robust. Irresistibly so. But Cheung’s false holy spirit conviction is fragile, leaving men unsure of whether He is witnessing (cf. Romans 8:16) and leaving men blind to the brightness of the glory of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Cheung:

“While I affirm the benefits of extended prayer and solitude, and that the regular chores of a church or family should not distract a minister from the ministry of the word, I also insist that the anointing is poured out on a man so that he can serve in power and humility, and to be an example. If a preacher has become too good to help in the nursery with all the dirty crying babies, or to scrub some toilets alongside the young people, because he might lose the anointing, then his anointing must be so weak that it would be better to play an audio recording of the Bible from the pulpit than to have him teach the people. Do you want to preach with power? Go study and pray, but then go wash the dishes and help your wife do the laundry. The power is in the Holy Spirit, not in your tranquil state of mind or your undisturbed tailored suit.”

The “dirty crying babies” ought to be in the nursery, huh? Well, wherever in the world the true gospel is being preached, the babies are not to be separated from parental oversight, nor are they to be hindered from hearing the Word accurately expounded, since Christ said for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

More from Cheung:

“Accordingly, we need to preach the truth to potential converts and established believers, but we do not need to baby them. Some will be offended no matter what you do (Luke 7:31-35), but the Holy Spirit is not offended by the truth. When God works in your hearers, they will believe in Christ and receive his teachings. Try to push them away, and they will come right back. When Elijah called Elisha, Elisha slaughtered his oxen and burned his plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people. When Elijah was about to be received into heaven, three times he told Elisha, ‘Stay here,’ but Elisha said, ‘As long as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ Likewise, Peter and the others left all to follow Jesus.

This aspect is often neglected in preaching and evangelism, but it was integral to Jesus’ ministry. Christians often say to people, ‘Jesus loves you and wants to save you. Just repeat this prayer after me.’ There! Another convert.”

In his commentary on Ephesians, Cheung had said:

“‘free will’ is Satan’s slogan, and Arminianism is his creed” (p. 30).

This is a super swelling statement stripped of spine since Cheung thinks that at least some true Christians are marching to this diabolos drummer. This contradicts what Cheung said earlier about the “wayward sheep” not following a stranger.

Cheung says:

“But Jesus said, in effect, ‘You better think about what you are doing. Do not begin if you are not going to finish.’ To be a Christian, to be a follower of Jesus Christ, means that you can no longer think and behave and live like a non-Christian anymore. If you belong to another religion, and any other religion is a false religion, you will have to give it up and become its enemy. If you are on a career path that is inconsistent with the teachings of Christ, you will have to give it up. If you are in a family or a country where the people oppose the Christian faith, be prepared to lose your income, your position, your friends, and in some cases even your life.”

Yeah, Cheung. Don’t begin the Christian walk if you’re not going to finish, but it’s not damnable if you begin your “Christian walk” with a false gospel, just so long as you finish. Cheung admonishes the “Christian” who began his walk in a false gospel to give up false religion and to become its enemy. Indeed. But to treat your former false religion as an enemy is NOT to speak peace to yourself while in it, but to count it as dung (see Philippians 3:8 and http://www.outsidethecamp.org/gosprep.htm).

Cheung:

“So I will not say to you, ‘Just repeat this prayer’ or ‘Pleeeeease accept Jesus.’ No, if you are not serious, if you think there is another option, if you do not understand what you are doing, then please do not come. My brothers have already packed our churches with losers like you. We do not need more. You are either all in or all out.”

Cheung’s spiritual brethren have packed the churches with “losers.” This may be worse bombastic bluster bereft of backbone than that of Sean Gerety and the late John Robbins.

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