By David Kowalski
I have been slowly making progress on a multi-part article about Joseph Prince and the new Antinomianism, and I offer below a very short summary of some of the more important issues involved with Princian teaching and the new Antinomianism that seems to follow his lead.
Joseph Prince’s doctrinal problems begin with his confounding the notions of faith and repentance. He quite questionably cites a small segment of Thayer’s Lexicon out of context in an effort to say that repentance is only a change of mind to believe the good news about grace (in effect saying repentance is another word for faith). Repentance involves turning from sin (Mt 3:8, 2 Co 7:9 etc.) Most online versions of Thayer’s are abridged. Compare Prince’s assertion to the full text of any Thayer’s lexicon which unequivocally says repentance includes godly sorrow for sin and turning away from sinful deeds.
He aggravates his error with the failure to note that though justification and sanctification are distinct in concept (a very important truth!), they are inseparable in experience. We are justified by faith but subsequently, real faith works by love (Gal 5:6), resulting in the “obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5). A consistent harmonization of Paul and James likewise concludes that real justification by faith is inseparable from a sanctified lifestyle (Eph 2:10). Prince says “practical righteousness” has no place in the believer’s conscious thoughts, as this would be a kind of “sin consciousness.”
Prince’s divorce of the inseparable constitutes what theologians call Sandemanian Antinomianism (mental assent to grace is all that is required). Prince’s response to the label is to say that Antinomianism is the rejection of the pedagogical use of the law in which law leads us to grace. Only Prince and the new Antinomians use the term “Antinomian” this way with the result that Prince deflects any intelligible discussion of the matter through a unique definition of the term
Prince hardens his Antinomianism through the unbiblical claim that all concept of law is Mosaic Law. Scripture teaches a royal or moral law which predates and exists apart from the Mosaic law. The Lord is king and issues commands prior to Moses and outside of Mosaic law. The New Testament speaks of our life in God’s kingdom rule (See 1 Co 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24; 15:50; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 1:5; 2 Tim 4:1, 18; Col 1:13, 4;11; 2 Tim 4:1, 18; Heb 1:8; 11:33; 12:25, 28; Jas 2:5; 2 Pt 1:11). Any message which dispenses with the kingdom here and now is a false gospel:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt 24:14 NASB)
Violating God’s royal, moral standards is considered “lawlessness” (see Mt 7:23, 13:41, 23:28, 24:12, Rom 4:7, 6:19, 2 Co 6:14, 2 Thess 2:1-8, 1 Tim 1:9, Titus 2:14, Heb 1:9, 10:17, 2 Pt 2:8, 1 Jn 3:4). It is Paul, the apostle of grace, who issues the most specific exhortations to godly living in the New Testament in contrast to Prince’s claim that such exhortations are a “legalistic ministration of death.”
Prince even further compounds his Sandemanian Antinomianism by embracing Calvinism only partially. He accepts the notion of unconditional security but does not advocate the Calvinist teaching of the perseverance of the saints which says that those who rebel against God will not be saved in the end because they were never true Christians to begin with regardless of their profession of faith and supposedly Christian activity.
By embracing unconditional security without the true, Calvinist concept of the perseverance of the saints, Prince’s teaching results in the idea that one really can live however they please as long as they keep a mental assent to “grace.” To make matters even worse, Prince also rejects the Protestant/Calvinist concept of the “third use of the law” (moral principles from both Old and New Testaments can guide Christian conduct).
Prince’s resulting, practical approach to Christian living falls under the category of “quietism” — a passive approach to sanctified living that ignores a massive amount of Scripture that tells us we must, in dependence upon the Spirit, “strive” (Lk 13:24, 1 Tim 4:10), using “self-control” (Acts 24:25; 1 Co 7:5, 7:9, 9:25, Gal 5:23; 2 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:8; 2 Pt 1:6) — which is a fruit of the Spirit but does not bypass the self. We must actively walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25), and we must do so with “diligence” and “perseverance” (2 Pt 1:5-7).
Prince mixes his semi-Calvinist, Quietistic, Sandemanianism with the New Thought teachings of Kenneth Hagin Sr. (Prince openly acknowledges this). Hagin plagiarized the teachings of E. W. Kenyon who had slightly reworded the ideas of New Thought Mind Science and packaged them together with marginal, Christian concepts. For example, New Thought “positive affirmation” became “positive confession” under Kenyon and Hagin and “subconscious mind” became “the recreated human spirit.” The New Thought obsession with wealth and pleasantries persists in Hagin and Prince. As someone “hungry,” “thirsty,” and “poorly clothed” (1 Co 4:11-13); Paul is a failure in their teachings.
Hagin and Prince’s notion of controlling spiritual forces through the power of the tongue (“positive confession”) contrasts Paul’s complete dependency on the person of the Holy Spirit as the sovereign Christ worked “through” him (Rom 15:18).
Princianism is a blend of semi-Calvinism, New Thought, Quietism, and Sandemanianism that falls outside the boundaries of biblical and historic orthodoxy. While I would not label Prince’s teaching as theologically cultic, I would consider it aberrant at best.
The links below all relate in some way to Princian Antinomianism. Some of them have been written at this time with the idea of using them as references in the future series on the new Antinomianism.
“Should We Say Should?”
“Should Christians Really Fear Wet Paint Signs?”
“Relativism and Antinomianism: It’s Mostly About Sex”
“Quietism — The Passive Christian Life”
“Is All Sin the Same to God?”
“God Wants His House to be Clean”
“God Disciplines His Children”
“Blessed Are Those Who Mourn”
“What Did Paul Mean By Condemnation?”
“Novelty: Good for Presentation but Not for Truth”
“Wayne Grudem on the Unity of Faith and Repentance”
“A Sermon Contrasting the Teaching of Joseph Prince”
Related, but to a slightly lesser degree:
“Is Eternal Security Conditional or Unconditional?”
“E. Bernard and Manasseh Jordan: Whose Side are They On?” (Contains a section on how New Thought mind science became “Christianized” in the church)
“Magic Then and Now”
“Needs or Wants?”
“Magic Wand or Cross?” (Charles Colson quote)
“Do We Drift Toward Holiness?” (D. A. Carson quote)
© Copyright 2013, David Kowalski. All rights reserved. Links to this post are encouraged. Do not repost or republish without permission.