There would no doubt emerge from the Christian community in Singapore many varied responses to the news, some will call for “forgiveness”, others will call for their denouncement, etc. I think it is only right and proper that we should consider carefully what are the real issues at stake here.
First, this is a systematic problem. If the allegations are true, then the crime is not only the work of one person but a concerted effort by the few named individuals to conspire to cheat the government and tax-payers of its dues. And if what I heard that the members are fully aware of the way the money is being used, then there is a guilt of complicity of all of its members as well.
If this is a cultural and systematic problem, then it is a problem with the “church” and community of City Harvest as a whole, and then the organisation as a whole is guilty. But unfortunately, you cannot “forgive” an organisation. Only individuals can be forgiven, not organisations. An organisation can at most make restitution, but it is not the object of forgiveness. To quote the Bethel Confession, “A nation can live and have a grand history, even where there is no church. Nations live within the natural world and have incurred the law of death that reigns over all creation. This is why a nation as a whole cannot be redeemed, for redemption is always God’s act upon an individual.” Just substitute “nation” with “community” or “organisation” and the point is the same.
Secondly, I think this “secular sin”, pales in comparison to the blasphemy which this church supposedly has been committing on a systematic basis. They have basically wilfully and unrepentantly violated the third Commandment: “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.”
By invoking God’s name to promise all kinds of material blessings which God has most assuredly not promised, they have blasphemed and dragged the name of God through the mud and provoked the divine vengeance for taking his name in vain for which they shall have to give an account at the Day of Judgement if they do not repent of it.
I shudder to imagine to how many faiths they have crushed, how many confidence in Christ they have shattered, when they invoked God’s name for some material blessing which did not come to pass. For shipwrecking the faith of many and dishonouring the name of God, this is the infinitely more severe and terrible sin for which we should all tremble to behold.
I don’t know any of them personally, so it is humbug to speak about forgiving them, but in so far as there has been no contrition or repentance for their blasphemy of God’s name, but a wilful persistence in that damnable sin, there can be no Christian fellowship or solidarity for them, but only a prayer for God to forgive them and for Him to sent unto them the spirit of repentance and contrition and true faith…