Monday, September 28, 2009

The Art of Christian Necromancy

We now continue our exciting journey into scholarly Chew’s intensely researched article on Rick Warren. We have previously seen that, in his rebuttal of a fellow Christian blogger named Dave Chong, Chew alleged that Chong confused “Classical Arminianism with Evangelical Arminianism.” In a recent comment in the Credo500 Christian Conference, he changed his mind and accused Chong of refusing “to differentiate Evangelical Arminianism from the semi-Pelagian Finneyist theology [of Rick Warren]…”

So which is it, Watchman Chew? Did your brother-in-Christ Dave Chong fail to differentiate between Evangelical Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism, or did he fail to distinguish between Evangelical Arminianism and Classical Arminianism? Or is it something else altogether?

Or perhaps it is you who are confused?

It seems that Mr Chew is truly confused concerning what Chong is allegedly confused about.

Error 3 – Theological Confusion

We have previously seen that our Watchman Chew had made serious factual errors concerning Arminianism; for example, while the Remonstrants did affirm total depravity, Mr Chew denied that they did.

This time, he revealed that he is actually quite confused with Rick Warren’s theology (doctrinal beliefs).

In a recent comment on Credo500, Mr Chew snarled at Dave Chong:


As usual, you still do not get it. Warren is NOT in any shape the same as Wesley. In fact, Wesley himself would denounce Warren as teaching error. Your refusal to differentiate Evangelical Arminianism from the semi-Pelagian Finneyist theology that Warren teaches is extremely regrettable.” [emphasis mine]

In this comment, the venerable Watchman Chew made it clear that Warren’s theology (doctrinal beliefs) is that of Semi-Pelagianism, calling Warren a “semi-Pelagian Finneyist” in theology. A budding theologian would surely know that Semi-Pelagianism is distinct from Arminianism.[1] Or so we thought.

In Mr Chew’s paper, Evaluating the Purpose Driven Paradigm: Recapturing the Vision of the Centrality of the Gospel, Chew stated clearly that Warren’s theology or doctrinal stand is that of Arminianism. Chew wrote:

“Lastly, the sufficiency of Scripture and of the Gospel is undermined by practical Pelagianism or the embrace of the Finneyist error of revivalism. That the Purpose Driven paradigm is practically Pelagian in its outworking, though doctrinally Arminian, can be seen in its consistency with Finneyist dogma that revival is a natural event engineered by the correct use of natural means.”[2]

Do note that although Chew accused Warren of “practical Pelagianism” (Warren’s praxis), he is adamant that Warren is “doctrinally Arminian” (Warren’s theology).

Here we get a serious problem. In Chew’s ‘expert’ theological discourses on Credo 500, Chew is confident that Warren’s doctrine is that of “semi-Pelagian Finneyist theology.” In other words, he believed that Warren was a Semi-Pelagian in doctrine/theology (not merely praxis). But in his scholarly paper, Chew alleged that Warren is “doctrinally Arminian.”

Hence, after intensive research, Chew is nonetheless confused concerning Rick Warren’s theological or doctrinal system. In one place, Chew was adamant that Warren’s theology is Semi-Pelagianism; in another, Chew was unrelenting in his allegation that Warren’s theology is Arminianism.

So which is it, Mr Daniel Chew Huicong? Is Rick Warren’s theological/doctrinal system that of Semi-Pelagianism or Arminianism?

Error 4 – Ipse-dixitism

We recall that in a recent comment on Credo 500, the venerable Watchman Chew made the following assertion:

“Warren is NOT in any shape the same as Wesley. In fact, Wesley himself would denounce Warren as teaching error.” [emphasis mine]

Giving Mr Chew the benefit of doubt that it is indeed true that Warren is not “in any shape the same as Wesley” – although we are not sure if Chew was referring to Warren’s physique, body-mass index, hairline or theological beliefs – it is puzzling to read how Chew managed to know (for a fact) what Wesley would do to Warren i.e. “Wesley himself would denounce Warren as teaching error.”

That is an amazing statement, spoken with perhaps equally amazing confidence and gusto.

It is possible that Mr Chew had learned the satanic art of necromancy, summoned Wesley from the grave and demanded from him a conclusive denouncement of Warren’s teaching. But this is quite improbable, given that he is a Christian, and that his genealogy does not include the witch of Endor and/or the likes of her.

It is, however, more probable that Mr Chew is entrenched within the minefield of ipse-dixitism; he has learnt the art of spewing ipse dixits and bare assertions – out of his own free will, of course – in order to accuse a fellow Christian blogger of being “confused,” as well as to relegate Warren to that proverbial heretic’s stake.

Still, we would like to hear from Chew: How did he know, for certain, that Wesley would denounce Warren’s teachings as error?

He is no necromancer, ain’t he?


[1] “Both Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism insist upon a synergistic view of redemption. A person’s salvation is the result of two agencies: (1) God’s grace and (2) human faith and obedience. But here again, there are important dissimilarities. The Semi-Pelagians thought of salvation as beginning with human beings. We must first seek God; and his grace is a response to that seeking. The Arminians of the seventeenth century, however, held that the human will has been so corrupted by sin that a person cannot seek grace without the enablement of grace. They therefore affirmed the necessity and priority of grace in redemption. Grace must go before a person’s response to the gospel. This suggests that Arminianism is closer to Semi-Augustinianism than it is to Semi-Pelagianism or Pelagianism. The word Pelagian as a description of Arminians – or Roman Catholics for that matter – does them an injustice because it associates them with a theological tradition that is truly heretical in that Pelagius trivialized grace, and in so doing trivialized the work of Christ.” Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Willams, Why I Am Not an Arminian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 39-40.

[2] Daniel Chew Huicong, Evaluating the Purpose Driven Paradigm: Recapturing the Vision of the Centrality of the Gospel, 22nd Sep 2009, p.9

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Empty vessels make the most noise

Scholarly Chew had apparently done intensive research on Arminianism (both classical/historic/reformation and Wesleyan) and Calvinism in the process of writing both “his book” and the recent article published in the Credo500 ecumenical Christian conference.

It is hopeful that he had gone through tomes of good books, articles, journals and references in his quest for the truth. We would then expect – at least on widely read, public Christian theological conferences – that our scholarly Daniel Chew Huicong would have got his basic facts correct.

We would expect – at the very least – basic research with Wikipedia and minimal knowledge on key aspects of Arminianism (both classical/historic/reformation and Wesleyan) before proceeding in his critique of, repudiation of, and condemnation of an alleged Arminian i.e. Rick Warren to the esteemed status of “heretic.”

But lo and behold, our scholarly and well read Daniel Chew Huicong has alas failed to grasp a Wikipedia-level of knowledge that perhaps even prepubescents will be able to understand and appreciate.

In his recent rebuke of a fellow Christian blogger (Dave Chong), Daniel snapped,

“You are confusing Classical Arminianism with Evangelical Arminianism. The Arminianism of the Wesleys is different from the Arminianism of the Remonstrants. For example, Wesley affirmed Total Depravity, while the Remonstrants did not.”

Is it true that blogger Dave Chong is confused, or is our scholarly Chew discombobulated?

Error 1

Watchman Chew wrote, “… Wesley affirmed Total Depravity, while the Remonstrants did not.”


Basic research on Wikipedia would have resolved his bewilderment, but alas, well-researched Chew couldn’t do better than our familiar Wikipedia.

Wikipedia says, “Classical Arminianism (sometimes titled Reformed Arminianism or Reformation Arminianism) is the theological system that was presented by Jacobus Arminius and maintained by the Remonstrants … [In this system of Arminianism] Depravity is total: Arminius states "In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.’”

You see, Article 3 of the Remonstrants really affirmed “total depravity” [but with a disclaimer; see below] while explaining away its effects through Arminius' doctrine of prevenient grace. If the Remonstrants denied total depravity outright, they would have little need for a doctrine of prevenient grace [1].

A quick research on the WWW would reveal further relevant material for his rebuke of fellow Christian blogger Dave Chong:

Quote – “The Five Articles of Remonstrance contrast with the Five Points of Calvinism on four points and agree on one point (namely, total depravity).”

Quote – “Article 3 [of Remonstrants]. Deprivation - corresponds to the first of TULIP’s five points, Total Depravity.”

It’s really very easy reading. There’s no need for tomes and journals for such simple, rudimentary knowledge on theology. And a little research into commercially available books would reveal clearly that Arminius and the Remonstrants did teach total depravity.[2]

Error 2

Watchman Chew said, “… Wesley affirmed Total Depravity …”

Theologians would attempt to distinguish between a Calvinist’s “Total Depravity” and a Wesleyan’s “Total Depravity.” After all, theology is also about fine concepts and distinctions. But Scholarly Chew falls victim to a common fallacy, the fallacy of equivocation, albeit unintentionally.

What kind of “total depravity” was he referring to? Wesley’s “total depravity” is different from Calvin’s; for example, Theopedia explains, “As John Wesley stated more forcefully, humans were in fact totally corrupted by original sin, but God's prevenient grace allowed free will to operate. Universal prevenient grace is the "hair's breadth" that separates Wesley from the Calvinist view of total depravity.”[3]

Wesley scholar Kenneth J. Collins correctly contrasts Wesley’s teaching with that of Calvin.

“At least initially, there does appear to be great similarity between Wesley’s doctrine of original sin and that of … Calvin, especially in the emphasis on total depravity. Upon closer examination, however, there are important differences to be noted largely due to different conceptions of grace. For instance, when Wesley uses the vocabulary of total depravity, he is referring to what he calls, “the natural man,” that is, to a person who is utterly without the grace of God. But does such a person actually exist? Not according to Wesley, for in the sermon “On Working Out Our Own Salvation” (1785) he states: “For allowing that all souls of men are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man that is in a state of mere nature; there is no man, unless he has quenched the Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called ‘natural conscience.’ But this is not natural; it is more properly termed ‘preventing grace.’” [4]

So according to Calvin, inability is the condition of actual human beings, and grace, therefore, must be irresistible if anyone is to be saved.

In conclusion, we would therefore appreciate at least a Wikipedia-level of research prior to subjecting a fellow Christian (i.e. Rick Warren) to the charge of heresy. Furthermore, we would truly appreciate if scholarly Chew would meditate upon a common English idiom, “Empty vessels make the most noise.”

Basic Reference:

[1] “Prevenient Grace” is a term that was used in the Remonstrance, a seventeenth-century document formulated by Jacobus Arminius and others, to protest the Calvinistic soteriology of the Reformers. The term itself simply means “grace that comes before”; but the Remonstrance cast it in terms of the grace of God given to all mankind without exception, which enables all men to respond to God's invitation and believe in the gospel. (see

[2]“[Arminius] declared that “nothing can be spoken more truly concerning man in this state, than that he is altogether dead in sin.” Later Arminians, including John Wesley and the main Methodist Arminian theologians of the nineteeth century, agreed completely with Arminius [on total depravity].” Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 56-57, quoting Arminius, “Public Disputations,” Works, 2:194. Olsen continued, “Arminians together with Calvinists affirm total depravity because of the fall of humanity in Adam and its inherited consequence of a corrupted nature in bondage to sin. … Arminius’s own account of human fallenness could hardly be stronger if he had been a full-blown Calvinist!” Olson, Arminian Theology, 55-56.

[3]It was also Wesley who “claimed that his own theology was “within a hair’s breadth” of Calvin’s teachings.” Olson, Arminian Theology, 55.

[4] Kenneth J. Collins, Scripture Way of Salvation, pp. 38-39, quoting Wesley, “On Working Out Our Own Salvation,” in The Works of John Wesley, ed. Albert C. Outler (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975-1983), 3:207.

Friday, September 25, 2009

See My BOOK!

Before we study and meditate upon the Watchman Chew’s scholarly paper in the Credo500 conference, we should take heed to Chew’s dogged insistence [in his paper] for his readers to “see [his] book.” Even as you peruse his paper on Rick Warren’s “heresy” and “false gospel,” you would observe a reiterating phrase, “see my book.”

Therefore, as instructed by our venerable Watchman, we decided to “see [his] book.” Of course, we are not furnished with a copy of “his book” – the book – so we could only peruse “the book” as reviewed by for now. If we are convinced to purchase a copy of “the book,” then we might just invest our hard-earned money into a copy of “his book”.

This book – the book – is Driven Away by Purpose: An Analysis of The Purpose Driven Life and Related Issues, 2 Ed. (Xulon Press, 2006) by Daniel HC Chew.

On Xulon Press’ website, which is the publisher’s website, we would find a brief description of “his book.”

DANIEL CHEW is an informed Christian layman who has experienced first hand the consequences that came with the advent of compromise which culminated in the Purpose Driven Movement. As a watchman called by the Lord, he endeavors to warn the Church against the compromise and wrong teaching that infiltrates and threatens to engulf her. Daniel is currently finishing his undergraduate studies in the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore for a BSc. (Honors) degree. He lives with his parents and one younger brother in their home country of Singapore.

There are a couple of things we can glean from the above information.

Firstly, Xulon Press is a POD or Print-On-Demand publisher. In the past, an author would have to submit his book to a publisher, who would then review the book and subsequently decide if the book is fit for publishing. Not with a POD author. With most POD companies, an author who has the funds can have his book published anytime, irrespective of quality of writing, editing, or information content. His book does not need to be reviewed for quality, editing, scholarship, or information content.

Deborah Ng observes that, “Because there's no major risk, as there is with traditional publishers who have to order large print runs, almost anyone can be a published author [with POD]. … If you've always dreamed of being published and you're unable to go the traditional route, you might consider a print on demand publisher. … In the past, if an author was rejected by a publishing company, she wouldn't be published. Now she can be – with print on demand.”

In other words, like the Watchman Chew (whose name card says “author”), all my children, nephews, nieces, and perhaps a monkey who can type would all qualify to be authors. Besides, they can all have name cards that say “author.”

Secondly, even in his book description, the Watchman Chew affirms that he is “a watchman called by the Lord.” He really does think that he is a “watchman” called by the Lord (and of course, the word “watchman” appears on his name card as well).

Thirdly, how would a BSc. (Honors) qualify him to write a theological critique of Rick Warren? This is possibly the reason why his book wasn’t submitted to a commercial publisher or reviewed by a theological committee.

Fourthly, why should we “see [his] book” if his academic and/or theological qualifications are as good as any BSc (Honors) graduates we find on the streets? That is in itself an argumentum ad verecundiam – an appeal to false authority. Is “his book” an appropriate authority in theology and/or Rick Warren’s teachings?

Finally, we would peruse a review from a Dan Proctor or Pastor Dan. We don’t know who pastor Dan is. Neither do we think that he is an authority in theology and/or Rick Warren, not unless he proves it for us. Nevertheless, we are presenting his review of Watchman Chew’s book as an interesting interlude in this post.

Pastor Dan wrote,

I ordered this book believing it would be an analysis of the purpose driven life movement, which I also oppose. What a disappointment to learn right away that the author is a Calvinist and like many, he is absolutely consumed with its false theology and warped concept of God. The book becomes nothing more than a forum to lecture us on the rightness of Calvinism as opposed to Arminianism.

The author makes a statement that demonstrates the piousness of many Calvinist authors. He says that "you are either a Calvinist, an Arminian, or a confused person." How insulting! In other words, you have to either bow down to the allegorical mysticism of Calvinism or the deluded system of Arminianism or you are a confused person. I'm not confused at all! I am a Bible belieiving dispensationalist who understands how to rightly divide God's Word in light of Paul's distinct apostleship and message.

The book is overpriced for what you get. The author tends to repeat himself over and over again as if we didn't get his point the first time. It is quite obnoxious. It seems that his main purpose is not to expose the false doctrine and philosophy of Rick Warren. It is to prove that Rick Warren is an Arminian. Like anybody besides another Calvinist cares!

The author looks like he is about 16 years old on the back cover and is definitely not an accomplished writer. There are typos and the book comes across as very amateur.

If you want a thorough analysis of PDL movement and Rick Warren, forget this book and get “Who's Driving the Purpose Driven Church?”

We can’t blame Dan for thinking that the Watchman is 16 years old.

Some other comments follow:

N8 writes,

I have been blogging with Him for the last few weeks on

He is doing the same thing to Joseph Prince.

When people react his warped theology he says they "need to use scripture". When people use the scriptures, he says they "have bad Theology"! And when people use Logic he deletes their comments.

I have not read the book and have no intention to do so.

Thanks for the review.

M. Aubrey (Linguist) writes,

No offense, but that's what you get from buying a book from a guy whose only 26 and already thinks he's got the whole world figured out.

So should we “see [his] book?”

I don’t know, but we’re still trying to get our hands on a copy of it, perhaps for free from our contacts. A photocopy would be very fine for our purpose though.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do not use your senses, boy! It's logically fallacious according to the venerable Watchman Daniel Chew Huicong

As always, there would be loads of fun when we get to peruse the honorable writings of the scholarly Watchman Daniel Chew Huicong. This post would be the first of a series of posts relating to the Credo500 Blog Conference which is hosted by our venerable Watchman Chew.

I was surfing the Credo500 blog for a little while when suddenly, I spotted something so very amusing I almost died from intractable hiccups secondary to choking on my coffee while reading it. It can usually be depended upon that such embarrassments come from a man who lives on a tiny, sunny island in Asia; a man whose mind is most certainly narrower than the island's oligarchy - and that is an empirical fact.

IMO, the principle error of NPP is the negligence it pays to the biblical historical context. Instead of using the infallible and inerrant historical context as narrated in the Bible, it uses the fallible and errant empirically-derived (and thus logically fallacious) "findings" of contemporary historical research to re-interpret the message of Scripture. After all, why do you think that there is so much narrative found in the Scriptures?

It is a pity that Dave did not pick up on this vital point in his evaluation of NPP. Attack the entire fallacious enterprise of empiricism (which is a form of unbelief), and the whole enterprise of NPP will come crashing down.
I take issue with the above sweeping statement/dicto simpliciter/allegation concerning "empirically-derived findings" i.e. that these are "logically fallacious." Chew wrote, "[NPP] uses the fallible and errant empirically-derived (and thus logically fallacious) "findings" of contemporary historical research to re-interpret the message of Scripture. ... Attack the entire fallacious enterprise of empiricism (which is a form of unbelief), and the whole enterprise of NPP will come crashing down."

Here Mr Chew proposed that P:

Where P = Empirically-derived findings are [thus] logically fallacious.

That statement is in itself self-defeating, and therefore, fallacious. Are "empirically-derived findings" logically fallacious/incoherent by default? Isn't this a mere bare assertion on your part, Mr Chew? (Disambiguation: Or are you confused between scientifically "empirical," positivistic "empirical," or the empiricist's "empirical" per se? Surely you believe you aren't because you used the technical term "empiricism" in your last paragraph.)

Don't you, the venerable Watchman Daniel Chew Huicong, rely on "empirically-derived findings" e.g. findings of your senses (cf. empiricism's "empirical"; see the last statement of your comment) to write this comment? Don't you rely on "empirically-derived findings" to decide what other bloggers have discussed? Don't you rely on "empirically-derived findings" to read the papers offered in this website? Don't you rely on "empirically-derived findings" to discern what propositions and arguments are being made in these discussions/papers?

If so, even as you utilize your "empirically-derived findings" to type out your response to all the comments found here, or use the keyboard which likewise relies upon your "empirically-derived findings" to construct phrases/clauses/sentences/paragraphs/propositions/arguments on the display screen of your computer unit/blogosphere, isn't it a self-defeating proposal that all such endeavors (of yours) are logically fallacious/incoherent?

If your statement is true, then I must probably [thusly?] conclude that all that you are (including your epistemology, but probably not all of your intellect on second thought, or whatever is left of it) - since you rely on "empirically-derived findings" to even live out your life - is a sad, sorry, and/or "logically fallacious" affair.

Question: How did you come to the knowledge of the Gospel? Via "empirically-derived findings" which are, according to you, logically fallacious (e.g. findings of activities such as reading, listening etc)?