The article follows a police report made against the church by several ex members. In their police reports, the ex-members claimed that family members were not talking to one another, women were made to strip to confirm” that God had given them a better, fuller figure and followers were asked to drink seven to eight cans of carbonated drinks to cure sore throats. " Perhaps the good pastor read medicine from a local university.
Women were constantly promised better, fuller figures, larger breasts and firmer buttocks by the pastor who would call out at random to female church members before praying over the specific body parts.
The women would then go into a room and strip in front of 15 other women members who would act as witnesses while another woman member inspected the particular body parts to confirm that God had bestowed the miracle upon them.
“Whatever he said, you had to believe. If you did not, he would scare you by saying that God would punish you,” said Chong, adding that even a 70-year-old grandmother was asked to go on stage to get her breasts “lifted”. [Now, that's an emotionally scarring image...]
Anyway, here follows the reports with my commentary.
Church bodies are also outraged over claims by the pastor that female members can be made more attractive and have better physique through his “miracle healings.”
The church, which allegedly has RM62.9mil in its accounts [Wow...the fellas are quite rich. This just goes to show how gullible the Malaysians are.], has been under scrutiny by the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) and the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF). [What, praytell, can these 2 bodies do, should they discover something amiss? These umbrella bodies have no jurisdiction over any of their constituent members or any other of the myriads of independent churches sprouting all over Malaysia. If only there were some kind of authority, some kind of person with real jurisdiction, then, when some doctrinal aberrance like this takes place, some corrective action can be taken. We need a person to say what is and what is not within the bound of Christian orthodoxy and the power to excommunicate, to put outside of the Christian communion one who does not adhere to these beliefs and persists in the error. Oh where can we find such a thing....?]
The two church groups confirmed that they had received complaints from members including receiving the recording of a sermon by the pastor, which was “clearly against the proper teachings of mainstream church groups.” [Who are these mainstream groups? Who decides who these mainstream groups are, who decides what is or isn't mainstream and who decides what is proper teaching and what is not, what is clear and what is not? Who is their source of authority?]
The church, originally set up in Banting in 1986, now occupies the whole floor of a building here.
Sentul OCPD Asst Comm K. Kumaran confirmed that a report was lodged on July 12 and that the police have begun investigating the case.
He said the case had been classified under Section 298A of the Penal Code, which involved causing disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will or prejudicing the maintenance of harmony or unity on grounds of religion.
NECF secretary-general Wong Kim Kong also confirmed the complaints, saying: “The church in question is not a member of NECF or any other mainstream Christian body.” [Again, who decides what is and what is not a 'mainstream' Christian body and what is the criteria used? Who makes up the criteria and based of whose authority?]
A CCM official expressed concern at the goings-on of the church, which claims to have 1,000 members.
The pastor, in his 50s, is said to have been sacked from a mainstream church [Again... all the above.] several years ago for making sermons which went against the teachings of the normal church bodies. [Again... all the above.]
In their police reports, the ex-members claimed that family members were not talking to one another, women were made to strip “to confirm” that God had given them a better, fuller figure and followers were asked to drink seven to eight cans of carbonated drinks to cure sore throats.
“My son still talks to me on the phone, but he doesn’t visit. Our daughter-in-law and grandchildren don’t visit us,” Theodore Tan, 64, who also lodged police reports, told The Star.
Liza Yeong, 50, said she did not visit or even answer phone calls from her parents or sisters for the 10 years she was with the church. [Cultic behaviour, this.]
“If anything bad happened, even though I wasn’t involved, the pastor would single me out, scold me and ask if I had talked to my relatives,” said Yeong. [Why did this person not simple leave?]
Belinda Chong, 47, said women were constantly promised better, fuller figures, larger breasts and firmer buttocks by the pastor [Ah.... now we have the reason. They wanted the gain without the pain, so they have no one but themselves to blame for their own gullibility.] who would call out at random to female church members before praying over the specific body parts. [This is hilarious.]
The women would then go into a room and strip in front of 15 other women members who would act as witnesses while another woman member inspected the particular body parts to confirm that God had bestowed the miracle upon them. [How unscientific. Shouldn't proper before and after measurements and photos be taken as proof of these miraculous 'healings'? These can then be compiled into a promotional brochure, like the Marie France Bodyline one... ]
“Whatever he said, you had to believe. If you did not, he would scare you by saying that God would punish you,” said Chong, adding that even a 70-year-old grandmother was asked to go on stage to get her breasts “lifted”. [That's just obscene. But if you think about it, what's the 70 year old lady doing there in the first place?]
The allegations from the former members were backed up with recordings of the pastor’s sermons, which included statements that the pastor himself was the Son of God and that members should not mix with those who were not from the church. [The Messianic Richard Simmons. I can only imagine. Errr.... no, I can't actually. And thank God for that. Be not unequally yoked to unfit people cos they can't pull their weight? Hmmm...]
Much of the recordings also concentrated on berating church members and the promise of hell if the members did not do as the pastor directed. [I'm kinda interested.]
A check with the Registrar of Societies on the organisation revealed that the church had RM62.9mil in funds as of Aug 31, 2006, with contributions from members totalling RM5.7mil from Sept 1, 2005 to Aug 31, 2006. [I tell you, for that kind of money, those fellows would do better to just go for plastic surgery. Perhaps our parish priest should start a body augmentation and anointing session and see if the collection goes up.]
The Star checked the premises on the night of July 31, during one of the sermon sessions.
A middle-aged man and a burly church member [Actually, I have it from good sources that this was the skinniest member of the church before the good pastor prayed over him and exorcised the skinny demon.] greeted this reporter at the lift door and said the church elders and pastor could not be disturbed because sermons were going on.
When this reporter tried to move towards the assembly hall, the burly church member prevented him from entering. [That sounds interesting. I wonder how Burly there 'prevented' him from entering.] The building security guard then escorted this reporter out.
Church members declined to respond to the allegations despite repeated calls.
Here's another follow up article on the response of the CCM, the Council of Churches Malaysia, an umbrella body of the mainline denomination, and the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, the NECF.
KUALA LUMPUR: Two Protestant church bodies have advised [Because, not having jurisdiction, that's all they can do. Incidents like these highlight the importance of structure and jurisdiction in order to preserve doctrinal orthodoxy. Without disciplinary power, the power to say clearly and authoritatively what lies beyond Christian orthodoxy, the Church will fragment. the Lord Jesus did not desire this and so He bestowed the Power of the Keys on Peter and the power of binding and loosing on Peter first and then collectively to the Apostles as a safeguard. Any community lacking this power of juridical regulation can only fall back on 'advising' and watching helplessly while heresy sprouts.] Christians not to be taken in by an independent church which they said was carrying out false teachings. [As I had argued earlier, these two groups can't authoritatively say what teaching is true and what is false as they lie within a matter of interpretation and without an authoritative voice with which to speak, theirs is but another drop in the sea of opinions.]
The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) and the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) said they were carrying out their own investigations following complaints of intimidation, deception and wrong teachings. [Which the investigated 'church' would the say 'deception and wrong teaching according to you but not according to our interpretation.]
NECF secretary-general Wong Kim Kong said the church was not a member of NECF or any other mainstream Christian body. [Even if it were, the good Rev. could not take any action aside from suspending it's membership.]
“This church has been in existence very independently and in isolation,” [Again, it's a matter of perception. I know many para churches which can be said to be rather 'isolated'.] said Wong, adding that the evangelical churches had nothing to do with it “because we do not agree with its theology and practices.” ['We don't agree'. They can't come out and say that it's plain wrong because, again, they do not have the authority to do so and it's all a matter of interpretation. The Church is not merely an association of like-minded people, it is the Body of Christ and the people of God. You are not in the Church because you happen to agree with what it teaches but because you believe that it was founded and divinely instituted by Christ Jesus and that you are bound to submit to it.]
A CCM official said it was aware of the existence of the church but noted that it was not affiliated with it.
“We have received complaints about the church but we have no concrete proof (to take action).” [See below.]
However, it is understood that a tape of a sermon made by the pastor has been sent to CCM. [What does it mean? Is the tape not proof enough? Anyway, what can the CCM do, proof or no proof.]
But both the NECF and CCM admitted that their hands were tied “unless it violated the laws of the country.” [Hmmm... putting a Christian doctrinal dispute in the hands of the Muslim majority legislature? Is this an invitation for intervention? That's the problem with a lack of authority.]
A CCM official said if anyone was unsure about the status of any church, they could check with it. [That's great. Ask the concerned 'church' whether they're teaching falsehoods. Wow.] Church leaders said that unlike Muslims, there was no Christian authority with the powers to check on Christian groups deemed to be deviationist. [That's not true. That's where the magisterium, the living, teaching authority of the Church comes in. The magisterium decides the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, rightly interpreting the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.]
The church groups also upheld the principle of freedom of religion, which also made leaders cautious to speak up against churches, including independent ones. [A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. It is the duty of the Church to warn against false prophets and false teachers, and not only that, but to fearlessly proclaim the truth to these people and call them to conversion.]
The NECF members include the Assembly of God, Baptist Church and Full Gospel Assembly while the CCM affiliated churches include the Methodist Church of Malaysia and the Lutheran churches.
The umbrella group for the Catholic Church is the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia.
Incidents like this highlight the importance of authority, properly and rightly exercised, to preserve the Faith, once for all handed over to the saints. Without authority, the faith is diluted and twisted by all and sundry as each man becomes his own pope.
Sooner of later, this great experiment of living without authority has got to end. Like children making a mess of things when the Father is out, wrongfully ignoring the sitter whom the Father had put in charge, one day, they'll realize their folly and return to the Church's communion. The Church is called by Holy Scripture the pillar and foundation of truth and Christ told His apostles 'He who hears you, hears Me and he who listens to Me listens to the One who sent Me'. This line of authority, this apostolic succession, is preserved by the apostles through the laying of hands and exists in the Catholic episcopate today. Would that the sheep no longer wander loss but return to their rightful shepherds and end this experiment leading themselves.