But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.Matthew 18:16
This article is the precursor to an earlier post I have written, Peter Tan & The Tabernacle Of Glory.
A little background to enlighten what is going on. Peter Tan founded a church in Malaysia in the 1980s known as Tabernacle Of Glory in Setapak and the church grew exponentially under his leadership. A scandal broke out, and the man was discredited for a serious wrongdoing, where the pastor was being accused of committing incest with his adopted daughter, who was then also believed to be an underage girl at the time of the incidents.
He left the country thereafter, and pursued similar church planting missions in other nations outside Malaysia, and also possibly to avoid prosecution in the event the issue becomes a police case. He also changed his name to Johann Melchizedek Peter Tan. And as they say, the rest is history.
Martin Tapia Zuckermann is a pastor, and he was appointed the leader for Cathedral Of Glory in Mexico, a church branch founded by Peter Tan. Martin is the author of a detailed thirty-two-page report, highlighting the scandals of Johann Melchizedek Peter, from the first case in Malaysia in the 1990s involving his adopted daughter, and right up to present scandals of the man.
The bravery and strict standards adopted by Martin Zuckermann in launching his own investigations into this matter and later, his efforts to document his findings into a well written PDF report, deserves much commendation. His articulate use and correct application of Biblical instructions, found in Matthew 18:15-20, shows us the importance of teaching and rebuking with accurate interpretations of Scripture.
Matthew 18:20 in particular is a popular Bible verse often quoted in churches everywhere, to encourage believers to come together as often as possible, in order to be with God. The verse, in itself, appears to speak of God’s promise that for where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there in the midst of them. But if we read Matthew 18:15-20 in context, the idea of coming together in the name of God has more to it than meets the eye.
Christ was in fact explaining the scenario where in the event of a contentious issue, a dispute, offense or transgression arising from within the church, we as believers are firmly instructed to resolve the matter internally within the church and not to involve judging by non-believers. He goes on to detail out the way in going about accomplishing this; by initiating discussions, presenting two or three witnesses having knowledge of the matter and if the transgressor refuses to answer the charges brought against him, then only he is to be treated and sent to the heathens for justice.
It is within these conditions of dispute resolution done in a Biblical way, that Christ describes and went on to promise that if two or three (witnesses) come together in His name, He shall be there among them. Matthew 18:20 has nothing to do with God promising us that if we have two or three or more people coming together to pray, He will answer all sorts of prayers indiscriminately. The latter is sheer misuse of Bible truth and gross misinterpretation of the Scripture.
Thus, seldom we hear of the entirety of Matthew chapter 18 being preached and explained with concision, and Martin Zuckermann in his report, and his pursuit to expose the wrongful deeds of Johann Melchizedek Peter Tan, is one fine example of a leader who reads the Bible, understands it and applying its instructions therein with acute precision.
Having said this, and having already made my point clear with what’s instructed in the Bible, I honestly do not see the need to rerun the story of Peter Tan and his misdeeds on this blog, as Martin Zuckermann had already done a brilliant job for us, by compiling the evidence and specifics, into one nice, easy-to-read document and releasing it publicly. I’m more keen on the Biblical principles that we can learn from this scandal and the methods used by Zuckermann in conducting his investigations. If you are interested to read what Zuckermann has to say about Peter Tan and about his scandals, you can download a copy of his report here from this link.