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When Leaders of a Church Fail To Exercise Discipline: Situation In Calvary Pandan BP Church.

The situation.

In the 28th of August 2006, the Straits Times newspaper published a one-eighth-page report, “Barred believer sues pastors for defamation.” Senior Pastor (Dr.) S. H. Tow,  Rev. Quek Suan Yew and Mr. Lim Seng Hoo were good friends and fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yet, they were engaged in a legal battle before a secular court!(“…Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”  St. Paul ). What was the cause of the animosity between Mr. Lim on the side and, Dr.Tow and Rev. Quek on the other?

 

FEBC and VPP_KJVOyism

The root cause of their legal case can be traced indirectly to the newly created teaching of VPP-KJVOnlyism espoused by the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC). It started as a difference of opinion between two lecturers from the FEBC, Dr. Jeffrey Khoo (academic dean) and Rev. Charles Seet. They disagreed on how the underlying texts of the KJV was preserved. In the words of Rev. Seet,

 

In June this year (2002) I had prepared answers in support of our KJV only position in response to two sets of questions (a total of 70 questions) that were written by some writers who do not hold to the KJV only position. I shared these with Dr Jeffrey Khoo and he proposed that we publish it jointly in the next issue of the Burning Bush. He also proposed some amendments to them which I did not entirely agree with. For instance, I had written for my answer to the question, Must we possess a perfectly flawless Bible translation in order to call it “the Word of God?” If so, how do we know “it” is perfect? If not, why do some limit “the Word of God” to only one 17th Century English translation? Where was “the Word of God” prior to 1611?(Why I Resigned from Teaching at FEBC, Rev Charles Seet’s letter to Life B-P Church Session, 8.11.02, pg 1”. )

 

Now, the debate should have been kept within the four walls of the FEBC. The study of the Original manuscripts(autographa), its copies (apographs) and translations is a specialized subject that should not concern the average church member.  However, some of the FEBC lecturers began promoting VPP-KJVOnlyism as a dogma from the pulpit of those churches who happened to invite them to preach. Similarly, no effort was spared to preach this newly created theory to the Youth Felllowship, Young Adult Fellowship, Sunday School of the many BP churches.

 

A carefully thought-out plan was made to infiltrate BP churches with this newly formed teaching. The plan was simple enough; the KJV bible is the only valid bible to be used in the English language, other versions are based on “satanic” Westcott and Hort texts. Further, the KJV bible or texts underlying the KJV, are perfect and identical to the Original manuscripts. The KJV bible is totally without errors of any type. Pastors and elders of churches who do not agree with the FEBC lecturers are branded as “neo-fundamentalist”, “neo-evangelical”, doubting the Bible as the Word of God, etc.

 

The aim of the plan is to create confusion in the church and discredit the pastor(s) or leaders in the church who are not VPP-KJVOnlyist. Indeed, confusion reigned among the members as to what VPP-KJV really is. Some say that the KJV bible is perfect; others say that it is the underlying texts of the KJV is perfect; yet others say that there is a VPP for the Chinese Bible (Chinese Union Version)[ this is not possible because the CUV is based on the Westcott-Hort text].

When asked by the non-VPP-KJVOnlyist to identify the autographic (God-breathed Original ) texts,

the FEBC lecturers would avoid answering the question. They prefer to hide behind the confusion in the church and, at the same time abuse the pulpits by attacking the non-VPP advocates.

 

The following is an extract of a weekly (28-9-2003) from a BP church which faced such a situation

 

The disregard of the Board of Elders’ Statement of Reconciliation (dated 1st January 2003) by certain FEBC lecturers.

 

The Session has been informed by concerned Lifers who attended the FEBC night classes that they have been distressed that the peace promised by the reconciliation statement did not materialize, as the Perfect Bible issue continues to be expounded by FEBC lecturers in Life Church premises, maligning Life Church Session of leading the Church the way of Fuller Theological Seminary going down the slippery road of Neo-Evangelicalism and heresy. This was confusing to Church members who attended that class, and undermined the authority of the Board of Elders and the Session. The Statement of Reconciliation said that neither view is dogma, but personal conviction; we are to accommodate and love one another notwithstanding our differences. However, certain FEBC lecturers have disregarded the statement unanimously agreed by Rev Tow and the Board of Elders, and continued to preach their Perfect Bible view as dogma, even including it as part of a Systematic Theology Course. This course included an assigned essay, "Is the Preservation of Scripture a Doctrine Worth Dying For?" which is insensitive and inappropriate given the Reconciliation Statement and current fears of terrorism, which may implicate the Church. In addition they have labeled those who do not hold to their Perfect Bible view as Neo-Fundamentalists and preaching heresy. The Session appealed to Rev --- to make good his repeated promises that he gave to the Session before the reconciliation statement was agreed and published, that he will restrain the FEBC lecturers from promoting their view as dogma. Lifers have been distressed, confused and divided by the conduct of these FEBC lecturers in contravention of the spirit of the reconciliation statement. However, Rev--- refused to fulfill his promises. Then he said he will resign as Pastor, and instructed Rev---  to take charge of the weekly and the 10.30am service, while Rev--- will take charge of the 8.00am service.

 

Split of some BP churches

In October 2003 a minority of the Life BP Church members left to start a new church, the True-Life BP church, under the pastorship of Rev. Timothy Tow and his son-in-law, Rev. Jeffrey Khoo (academic dean of the FEBC).

 

About 70 members of the Calvary BP Church (Jurong), left under the guidance of Ms. Carol Lee, lecturer in the FEBC, to found Truth BP Church. This happened in January 2006.

 

Instead of confining the debate to issues, sadly, it became personal at the Calvary Pandan BP Church. The situation was so serious that it resulted in a legal suit. A Mr. Lim Seng Hoo alleged that Rev. Quek Suan Yew (a lecturer at the FEBC and long time friend of Rev. Jeffrey Khoo from days gone by when they were members of a Charismatic church) and Dr. S. H. Tow defamed him. Before the legal suit, two non-VPP-KJV elders who tried to mediate between the ‘warring’ parties voted out of office and, two other elders resigned their positions soon after the election. The church is now under the leadership of mainly VPP-KJVOnlyists.

  

Spread of VPP-KJVOnlyism within BP churches.

Could the schism in the BP churches been avoided? The answer is a definite ‘yes’, provided the leaders of the churches and the FEBC had taken steps to deal with the issues and the people responsible. VPP-KJV spread to the BP movement when it was introduced to the FEBC in the late 1990’s by a D. A. Waite. Although there were leaders in the BP movement who were aware of the non-biblical character of VPP-KJV, there was generally a lack of knowledge of Scripture and courage that prevented them to act decisively against this unwholesome teaching which was vigorously promoted. Not knowing God’s Word well implies having little faith in the promises of Scripture. So at best only half-measures were taken to deal with this heresy, and oftentimes, the teaching is welcomed with open arms. Factors such as friendship, kinship, career, positions of power, academic advancement prevented any real attempts at finding a peaceful way out of this explosive situation. God’s truth and the gospel of peace had been compromised.

 

Biblical example of handling error.

 

God in His mercy has left us an example in the Bible of how to deal with heretical teaching in the letter to the Galatians.

 

Having read that Paul was welcomed by some of the apostles as being a missionary to the gentiles(Gal 2:9), we now read that Paul confronted Peter (Gal 2:11) “to the face”. The apostle Paul had to oppose vigorously the Judaizers who secretly sent people to spy on the new found liberty the converts have in Christ. The Judaizers wanted to reintroduce practices that would bring Christians into the bondage of the defunct religion of the Jews.

 

The church in Antioch had a healthy mix of Jewish and gentile Christians. Peter has had meals in common with the non-Jewish Christians in Antioch and we can be sure that this would include the Lord’s Supper. This is consistent with Peter’s experience of the vision where he was commanded to eat ‘anything’ which has been cleaned by God (Acts 10). However in the presence of the Judaizers, he would withdraw and separated himself from the Gentiles, fearing what the Judaizers would  report when they go back to James. The rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch would follow after the hypocrisy of Peter in separating from the non-Jewish Christians. This event even affected Barnabas, the faithful servant of the Lord who being the first pastor of the church in Antioch should have stood against the tide of Christian Zionism. But alas, the influence of Peter and the Jewish believers were so compelling that it carried him along to act contrary to his beliefs. It was clear to the Jewish Christians at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts15) that ceremonial laws and practices are now obsolete (Acts 15:24-29), yet in Antioch, they as a group acted contrary to these basic beliefs.

 

Paul’s principle of handling false teaching.

 

a)  False teaching must never be tolerated even for a moment (Gal 2:5). Errors should be dealt with decisively that truth might abide.

 

b)  A false teaching does not become truth because some influential person holds to that teaching. Just because an academic dean of a seminary teaches a new theory does not make the teaching true. We need to examine it in the light of the Bible (Gal 2:6 …whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:…

c)   The way Paul confronted Peter suggests that we have to be open in exposing heresy. The typically  discreet, “hush-hush” manner of dealing with problems has been set aside by the great apostle Paul. He defended the truth and liberty of the gospel valiantly, clearly, directly and openly. To defend truth by political manoeuvring, stealth and deception is to undermine the very thing we are trying to defend.

 

Steps taken by  Paul in exposing error.

 

(i)                 Paul clearly identified the person who was the cause of the trouble and confronted him. (But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. Gal 2:11)

 

(ii)               He did not speak to Peter privately but confronted him in front of all present.   (Gal 2:14  But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?)

 

(iii)             He explained to all present why the works of the law does not justify a person before God but rather, the death and resurrection of Christ secures for believers the love of God and their justification.(Gal 2:15-21)

 

We know that the apostle Peter did not take to heart this action of Paul. We can be sure that Peter is grateful that Paul brought up this matter [in 2Peter 3:15, Peter addresses Paul as “beloved brother” and acknowledges that what Paul wrote is on par with Scriptures(v. 16)]. Paul did not attack the person of Peter but instead was concerned with what is wholly doctrinal. His being a Christian and an Apostle required him to confront Peter publicly.

 

Jeffrey Khoo and Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP).

 

Jeffrey Khoo must be ‘credited’ with breaking up the Bible Presbyterian denomination along the lines of  VPP-KJVOnlyism. Khoo has been aided by the majority of current lecturers of the Far Eastern Bible College and the elders of some BP churches. Jeffrey Khoo makes use of the pulpit to preach the heresy of  VPP-KJVOnlysim and, also attack pastors and whoever does not subscribe to VPP-KJV.  When challenged, he would be evasive, seek pulpit immunity and redefine terms (give new meanings to established terms) thus creating confusion amongst the average church members. Many of the lecturers of the FEBC and elders would parrot Khoo from the pulpit, not knowing the real meaning and significance of VPP-KJVOnlyism.

 

Simply put, the VPP promoted by the FEBC says that the underlying texts (in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) of the KJV bible is word-for-word identical to the Original, God-breathed manuscripts. The reason for saying this is that, unless we have a Bible in our hands today we cannot be sure of our faith, or unless God has preserved the physical texts 100%, He is not a real God but an impotent one.

 

We can see from some of the articles written by Jeffrey Khoo that VPP is not based on the Bible, but the dreams and fancies of Jeffrey Khoo.  Consider the extract from an article below;

 

Could God have restored for His Church all of His inspired and preserved words in the days of the Reformation? As the all-powerful God, He certainly could, and by faith we believe He surely did. Just as He restored the Old Covenant words of His Decalogue through His servant Moses (Exod 19:16-21:26, 31:18-32:28, 34:1-4; Deut 5:1-29, 9:20-21,10:1-5), and all His words in the scroll which Jehoiakim cut up and burned (Jer 36:1-32), so we believe the Lord has similarly done for His New Testament words which have been kept pure in the Traditional and Majority manuscripts and are now found in the Printed Text of the  Protestant Reformation—the time-tested and time-honoured Textus Receptus underlying the KJV [ The Burning  Bush, July 2006,p. 78]

 

What does Khoo say? “by faith we believe He surely did”. So when we read Act 19:6,  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”, can we too believe by faith that we can speak in tongues and prophesy the way Paul and the believers did? Similarly, can we, by faith drink poisons, endure snake bites, cast out demons, etc as Jesus said (Mark 16:17-18)?  “And these signs shall follow them that believe; …. they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”  

 

There are many objections to VPP but we will only consider two points.

 

(i)       There are no more special revelations and general revelations after the close of the apostolic age (about AD 100). This is a common teaching among the Reformed Churches. It is not surprising when you consider that Jeffrey Khoo and his close ally Quek Suan Yew were members of a Charismatic church for a long time. They never have truly embraced Reformed Christianity.

 

(ii)      To say that the God restored the Original God-breathed texts in 1611 is to imply that those people (e.g. Erasmus) associated with the Received Text (textus receptus) are of equal standing with the Biblical authors, i.e. they are directly inspired by God. This is because the Received Text contains ‘a few readings taken from the Latin, for which there are now no extant Greek manuscripts, have always been included in the various printed editions of the Received Text’.[1]

  

 

What makes VPP a heresy is that

 

(a)   it belittles the promise of Jesus that He will send the Holy Spirit

(b)   it casts doubt on the function of the Holy Spirit.

 

The work of the Holy Spirit in relation to God’s Word is as follows:

(i)                 He will make Christ known: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (Joh 15:26)

 

(ii)               He will guide Christians to all truth and glorify Christ: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (Joh 16:13-14)

 

(iii)             He will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:(Joh16:7-8)

 

(iv)             He will teach Christians all things: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 )

 

Consider what some of the VPPites say when Christians do not believe that the KJV underlying text is perfect (Note: When VPPites speak of “Bible” they mean the KJV bible) .

 

The alternative view is that God’s Word is perfect in the originals (autographs)…. if we subscribe to the fact that God inspired His Word in the original writings but does not ensure a 100% preservation of it, how can we then even trust in God for our salvation? [‘VPI and VPP: Does it concern me.’, Boaz Boon, (“Elder” of a church)]

 

how can we know for certain that our faith is sure? …... If we do not have an infallible and inerrant Scripture today, then is not our faith vain? Are we still not in our sins? Christians are a most miserable lot for sure![‘Knowing our Bible-Presbyterian faith’, Jeffrey Khoo]

 

…if the Christian Bible is not perfect, infallible and inerrant, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” [“The emergence of neo-fundamentalism: one bible only? Or ‘yea hath god said?’”

, Jeffrey Khoo]

 

“….If I say that God has preserved the biblical texts and I DO NOT HAVE it then how can I say that GOD has preserved it!...this is a contradiction that, in my opinion, undermines and perhaps attacks the omnipotence of God.” [Rev.Quek Suan Yew in a letter to Rev. Charles Seet]

 

The sum of all the arguments by the VPPites is that God is obliged to preserve the Original text a 100%  so that they can hold a physical bible in their hands, otherwise they would doubt God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 

What about those people who became Christians through using the RSV, NIV, NASB, ESV, etc? The VPPites doubt their salvation because their Bibles are based on the Satanic texts of Westcott and Hort.  However, God’s Word states otherwise; it is the Holy Spirit that interprets the Bible to us when we read  it, that makes us believe that it is the Word of God.

 

But the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and no lie, and as He has taught you, abide in Him.”(1Joh2:27)

 

The VPP-KJVOnlyist  attack the Holy Spirit in doubting His ability to bring the truth to believers. They grieve the Holy Spirit and make unbiblical demands on God. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God would preserve the Autographical text in the KJV underlying texts. The heresy of the VPPites comes very close to committing the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit.[2] Jeffrey Khoo, a false teacher of the Gospel, redefined established biblical terms giving them new meanings to confuse the church members and elders. He then launched  vicious attacks against Christians who do not subscribe to his fanciful made-up stories regarding God restoring the Autographical texts in 1611.

 

Failure of leaders of the FEBC to exercise discipline.

 

If Jeffrey Khoo had kept his belief within the confines of the college and debated within the academia there would have been no split of the BP churches along the lines of VPP-KJVOnlyism. However, sensing that he could not prove from the Bible and produce data to substantiate his claims for VPP-KJVOnlyism, he resorted to political means and deception to win converts over to VPP-KJVOnlyism. Herein lies the start of the schism in the BP movement. Leaders of the FEBC and some of the BP churches sacrificed truth for kinship and friendship.  He was cautioned but ignored them and was allowed to be let loosed to do further damage to the congregations as the leaders watch from the sideline. The key players of VPP-KJVOnlyism from the FEBC Jeffrey Khoo, Quek Suan Yew, Prabhudas Koshy and Carol Lee were not from Reformed background and know very little about the historic-reformed Christianity.

 

Situation in Calvary Pandan

 

Mr. Lim Seng Hoo, an ordinary member of the church, not a deacon nor an elder, was willing to spend the time, effort and resources to debate with Jeffrey Khoo on VPP-KJVOlyism. In Lim’s own words,

 

“On 3 Jul 05, Dr Khoo distributed 300 copies of an open letter against my “An Evidential Review” to his church, and also emailed his letter to other churches. He later on 10 Jul preached a VPP sermon at Calvary Pandan, which led to my Open Letter on 14 Jul, inviting him to a public academic debate, which many had implored of me, as being the best way to resolve the issue decisively, for the peace of all our churches On 17 Jul, I hand distributed 60 copies of my open letter to English members…” [http://www.truth.sg/necessity.htm]

 

The act of distributing his open letter to 60 members calling for an open debate with Jeffrey Khoo got him into trouble with the pastors. However, this time, some of the elders of Pandan were not willing to sit on the sideline to watch. They did their best to resolve the standoff between Lim and the two pastors. Political manoeuvrings  by the VPP-KJVOnlyist and their sympathizers thwarted any plans at resolving the impasse amicably. During the session elections two long-standing elders were voted out and subsequently, two others who were voted in resigned their positions.  This event is not surprising seeing as one of the pastors is also a lecturer in the FEBC.

 

Many Christians have the opinion that Lim should not have brought a legal suit against the pastors.  But then again we do not really know what transpired during the worship service. Did the pastors went overboard in their criticism of Lim, or was Lim too sensitive? One thing is for certain, this issue can be traced to VPP-KJVOnlysim of Jeffrey Khoo  and, with the majority of the newly elected Pandan session members being VPP-KJVOnlyist, Lim would be censured for his stand against the heresy of VPP-KJVOnlyism.

 

We pray to God that this legal case will be settled amicably and out-of-court.  

 

Conclusion: The mysterious man sent to tell Eli about the downfall of his family.

 

And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, "Thus the LORD has said, 'Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?'  Therefore the LORD the God of Israel declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,' but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. (1Sam2:27-31)

 


[1] The Trinitarian Bible Society wrote in its “Statement of Doctrine of Holy Scripture”  Erasmus’ first edition included, in a few cases, readings from the Latin Vulgate. This was largely due to the fact that some of the Greek manuscripts available to him were incomplete (e.g. his manuscript of Revelation was missing its last six verses).  ….However, a few readings taken from the Latin, for which there are now no extant Greek manuscripts, have always been included in the various printed editions of the Received Text.

 

[2] ‘This sin consists in the conscious, malicious, and willful rejection and slander, against evidence and conviction, of the testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Christ, attributing it out of hatred and enmity to the Prince of Darkness…in committing that sin man willfully, maliciously, and intentionally attributes what is clearly recognized as the work of God to the influenced operation of Satan’. [Systematic Theology; L Berkhof]