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The Essence of the Hyper-Grace Error

The Hyper-Grace movement is a movement within Charismatic circles that has spun out a controversial teaching about God's grace. It seems to have originated from Joseph Prince, the "pastor" of New Creation Church in Singapore. The Hyper-Grace movement rejects the notion that the Law has anything to say to the Christian, but rather for the Christian, it is all grace and no law. That does not mean positively condoning sin, but one wonders how sin can be known apart from the law (cf. Rom. 7:7)

While there has been at least one written critique of the Hyper-grace movement[1], what exactly is the essence of its error? If we want to pinpoint the major point of its deviancy, what exactly is it? Hyper-Dispensationalism is obviously a problem, yet hyper-grace proponents do not emphasize Dispensationalism, although at least Prince explicitly uses the notion of dispensation as a prop for his theological propositions[2]. It seems to me that the main error of the hyper-grace movement is its defective view of the problem with man, and the defective view of the solution offered by Christ.

In Joseph Prince's book Destined to Reign, Prince dealt with what he thinks to be the major problem with mankind. According to Prince, the deepest root that causes all the destructive sin patterns is condemnation[3]. As Prince wrote,

That is why condemnation is the deepest root. It is a root that man cannot overcome through self-effort. Condemnation demands a payment for all your failures and sins, but without Jesus, there is no payment. For some time now, there has been talk about guilt and how it can cause various adverse symptoms to appear in the human body, but that is just skimming the surface of the matter. While experts may be able to identify guilt and condemnation as the sources, they have no solution to destroy them. ... [4]

One can of course point out that Prince uses phychological analysis in part to determine the problem with Man, and that is correct. Prince sees the problem with mankind as one of condemnation. Satan and the Law seek to condemn people for their errors. The Gospel then, for Prince, is the removal of this condemnation; the "gift of no condemnation"[5]. Misusing Romans 8:1 as his central proof-text, Prince states:

My friend, the main reason our Savior's blood was shed was for the forgiveness of our sins. This means that the blood of Jesus also offers us protection from any form of condemnation. When you have a revelation that Jesus' blood has made you righteous and all your sins are forgiven, you are protected from condemnation from the accuser. It's imperative that you understand this because it will give you the confidence to come before the throne of God boldly and see Him as a loving Father. It will cause you to reign over that sin, addition or depression that is holding you in bondage today.[6]

According to Prince therefore, the main problem with mankind is condemnation, and Christ came to remove the condemnation. Sin of course is not unimportant, but sin seems to be treated as external acts that stem from condemnation.

It is here that we see the main error of the hyper-grace movement. For if condemnation leads to sin, then the solution is to remove condemnation by naming and claiming Christ's righteousness as ours[7]. In orthodox Christianity, the problem with mankind is sin, in that Man has original sin, and commits actual sin daily. Man commits sin because he is sinful and thus violate God's Law regularly. The Gospel is the message that Christ has atoned for our sins so that we will be saved when we put our trust in him and rely on his righteousness. The orthodox scheme is this:

Problem: Sin; Solution: Propitiation, expiation and double imputation.

Whereas for Prince, as we have seen, the problem with mankind is condemnation that leads to more and more sin. The solution is the gift of no condemnation. This can be shown as follows:

Problem: Condemnation; Solution: Gift of no condemnation

It is at this point that we can see how the hyper-grace heresy develops. In evangelical theology, condemnation is the judicial consequence (not root) of sin. Romans 8 comes after 7 chapters dealing with the sinfulness of man and the Gospel of free salvation in Christ, and therefore the removal of condemnation is a consequence of actual salvation. In the Scriptures, no condemnation is the judicial verdict stemming from the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel. Prince redefines the problem and the solution in more psychological instead of forensic terms, and thus arose the hyper-grace error.

Due to its misdiagnosis and misprescription, it can be safely said that hyper-grace is a false gospel. By making the consequences of sin and salvation their respective roots, Prince and other hyper-grace preachers have created a false gospel which they are peddling to the masses. While there are some surface similarities between hyper-grace and the true biblical doctrines of grace, at its root the two are radically opposed to each other. Therefore, even as we must be against (true) Legalism, we must also defend and refute the hyper-gracers who might seem to be teaching something similar to us in some aspects, but are actually promoting a false gospel.


References:

[1] Michael L. Brown, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014)

[2] Joseph Prince, Destined to Reign: The secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living (Singapore: 22 Media, 2007), 43, 92-3

[3] Ibid., 131

[4], Ibid., 133

[5], Ibid., 164

[6] Ibid., 159

[7] Ibid., 17-18