The Word of Faith Movement, also known as Prosperity Theology, is
alive and well especially in American Christianity; with much of the credit(?) being given to TBN
( NetwrkTrinity Broadcasting Network ) and its myriads of ( supposed ) preachers of the word and pastors of the flock. Word of Faith Theology is extremely hard to pin down as it does not have an official statement of faith, a creed or confession, and is not even a denomination, though many of its adherents would fall into various Pentecostal/Charismatic circles.
Never the less, one of its main controversial tenets is how those who follow it define faith. They most often use a definition akin to Positive Confession which states:
we are created in the image of God thus we have the ability to release faith-filled words creating reality.
Compared to E.W. Kenyon’s thoughts:
Man is a little god, created in ” God class “, and therefore can use the same faith that God has to speak things into existence.
Some of the most outspoken proponents of this doctrine today are Paul Crouch ( founder and president of TBN ), Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Jesse Duplantis.
They have been quoted as saying the following:
Kenneth Copeland: God did not create the world out of nothing, He used the Force of His Faith. (Spirit, Soul and Body, #01-0601, Tape #1)
Benny Hinn: Sow a big seed, when you confess it, you are activating the supernatural forces of God. (Praise-a-thon (TBN), recorded November 1990)
Joyce Meyer: in her book, writes, “Words are containers for power” (The Name, The Word, The Blood, p. 37).
Creflo Dollar: Whatever you believe, you must speak.
Jesse Duplantis: “I said to Paul, you went through great persecution.” “Yes,” he answered, “but I kept the faith. I focused my life on faith. That’s how you get things done. . .Never change the message because of the hearers. Speak what God gives you”
This theology, naming it a claiming it, in nearly all of its permutations, can be traced to E.W. Kenyon and subsequently to Kenneth ” Pop ” Hagin.
Hagin is quoted as saying in one of his articles:
“You Can Have What You Say”:
“Often you create your own negative situations yourself with wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong speaking. So start believing according to God’s Word. Then begin making positive confessions of faith and victory over your life. … You will never receive anything from God beyond the words you speak. … If you don’t like what you have in life, then begin to change the way you are thinking, believing, and speaking. Instead of speaking according to natural circumstances out of your head, learn to speak God’s Word from your spirit. Begin to confess God’s promises of life and health and victory into your situation. Then you can begin to enjoy God’s abundant life as you have what you say!”
Kenyon’s introduction of New Thought into the Church and its viral spread throughout the 20th Century has lead to confusion on what Faith is in the Church and in the life of the Believer.
The following exchange between Kenneth Copeland and Paul Crouch is endemic to the problem:
Copeland: The Force of Faith is in the Spiritual Realm a great deal like certain forces in the natural realm. It is spiritual force, like gravity is a natural force, and electricity is a natural force of power.
Crouch: A measurable Natural Force.
Copeland: It’s a measurable force, its conductible, perceptible to the touch…
Crouch: ….Does God use faith??
Crouch:…The critics say God is God. He doesn’t have to use faith….He’s the object of faith.
Copeland:..waith a minute….what does that mean? Object of faith. I don’t know what that means.
The Reduction of God
There are more than a couple problems with that exchange but first and foremost it reduces the Infinite Creator of the Universe to using a natural force to create and reach His desired ends. Does God use natural Laws? Yes, He does and through Christ all things are sustained ( Colossians 1:16-17 ). It is through His sustaining power that these laws continue to function and through their temporary suspension ( miracles ) that He demonstrates His power over them.
Does God give grace and faith to fallen men allowing them to come to Him? Yes, but God, who is the maker of all things is not subservient to Creation or a spiritual force akin to gravity.
By making God the user of an invisible force they are attempting to bring Him down to their level and raise themselves up to His. Now man has the same power that God does, we can create our reality, and the Giver of life is relegated to ” faith-force co-opt ” providing your faith needs since creation.
The Object of Our Faith
Also, we should realize that Christ, the God-man, is the object of our faith. He is the objective reality, embodied in the story of the Gospel, which declares Him to be the Christ, our sinless and Risen Lord, who purchased a people for Himself by the shedding of His precious blood. The Person of Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has accomplished, is the object of our faith…our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and Righteousness. He has secured the new birth, justification, sanctification, and ultimately glorification for those who believe in Him. Without the Objective reality of Christ, the Cross, and the Empty Tomb there is no Gospel and our faith is in vain.
Not only is our faith in Him, He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith ( Hebrews 12:2 ). It is by grace through faith, not of ourselves, ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ) that we can come into a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is not the mystical manifestation of a spiritual ” force ” that operates independently of God Almighty…..faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen ( Hebrews 11:1 ). Our Great Hope ( 2 Corinthians 3 ) is the resurrection of these frail bodies into our glorified state ( 1 Corinthians 15 )….and it is only because of Christ that we have this hope.
It ( faith ) is not only the substance of our hope, but it is also the evidence of things not seen. Remember what the Risen Christ told Thomas
28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
We have evidence, but this evidence means nothing without eyes to see and ears to hear ( Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 5:21, Matthew 13:15, Romans 11:8 ). It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit in one’s life and the drawing of the Father to the Son that life and faith is even possible.
WE cannot create new worlds by speaking them into existence. WE cannot produce wealth and health by naming it and claiming it. Though our tongues are dangerous ( James 3 ) they are not divine. Faith is not a force that is wielded by those skilled in the arts of Prosperity, it is not activated by the speaking of the right words but is rather, the knowledge of, and trust in, the giver of all life, Jesus Christ. I pray that by the working of the Holy Spirit that you will be lead into all Truth and have the faith that saves.
What do you think?
The Nature of God
When we describe God we are doing so, even as redeemed people, from our fallen perspective. We are attempting to describe the Infinite and Transcendent with the finite and earth-bound, but God has not left us to wallow in our ignorance. He has revealed through creation ( natural revelation Psalm 19:1, Romans 1 ) and Scripture and Christ ( special revelation 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1 ). We can know who God is in a way that is real and reliable because He has condescended to reveal Himself to us.
Continue reading “The Nature of God and Word of Faith”
The Word of Faith and the Atonement
As stated in Hebrews 9:22, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins and it has been so from the beginning…..God, after the Fall provided Adam and Eve with skins from innocent animals as a covering for their shame ( Genesis 3 ). It is seen in the Old Testament sacrificial system that was given as a type and shadow of the ultimate Sacrifice. The reconciliation of His people to Himself is paramount to the Biblical narrative and finds its culmination in the work of Jesus Christ.
Matthew in his Gospel declared that Jesus came to save his people from their sins ( Matthew 1:21 ), John says that the Father has given those who will be saved to Him ( John 6:39 ), and Paul in Ephesians says that we all, both Jew and Gentile, are now the people of God through faith ( Ephesians 2 ). So how was the Atonement, our salvation, wrought?
Word of Faith and Atonement
Their views on these two subjects will invariably also affect how they believe the Atonement was secured. Since faith does not have an object ( the Person of Christ ) and all men are little Messiahs….how could the Word of Faith doctrinal teachings on the Atonement not be skewed from the orthodox perspective?
Copeland et all have said the following in regards to the Cross and
He allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell as if He were the most wicked sinner who ever lived … Every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him … [They] tortured Him beyond anything that anybody has ever conceived … In a thunder of spiritual force, the voice of God spoke to the death-whipped, broken, punished spirit of Jesus … [in] the pit of destruction, and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life … He was literally being reborn before the devil’s very eyes. He began to flex His spiritual muscles … Jesus Christ dragged Satan up and down the halls of hell … Jesus … was raised up a born-again man … The day I realized that a born-again man had defeated Satan, hell, and death, I got so excited … !” (“The Price of it All,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, September 1991, p. 4).
Copeland- “It wasn’t the physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin … anybody could do that.” (What Satan Saw on the Day of Pentecost)
Copeland- “When Jesus cried, ‘It is finished!’ He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. There were still three days and nights to go through before He went to the throne. … Jesus’ death on the cross was only the beginning of the complete work of redemption.” (“Jesus—Our Lord of Glory,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, April 1982, p. 3)
Jesus’ “rebirth” in hell. “[I]n hell He [Jesus] suffered for you and for me. The Bible says hell was made for Satan and his angels. It was not made for men. Satan was holding the Son of God there illegally … The trap was set for Satan and Jesus was the bait.” (Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous, 1979, p. 77)
Hinn- “He [Jesus] who is righteous by choice said, ‘The only way I can stop sin is by Me becoming it. I can’t just stop it by letting it touch Me; I and it must become one.’ Hear this! He who is the nature of God became the nature of Satan where He became sin!” (TBN, 12/1/90).
Joyce Meyer “There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell” (In her 1991 booklet, The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make
Meyer-“His spirit went to hell because that is where we deserved to go.” (The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make 1991, p.36.).
Hagin-“Physical death would not remove our sins. He tasted death for every man – spiritual death. Jesus is the first person ever to be born again. Why did HIS spirit need to be born again? Because it was estranged from God.” (“The Name Of Jesus”, Kenneth E. Hagin, pp. 29-30.)] Frederick Price-“Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God … Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence.” (“Ever Increasing Faith Message”, Frederick K. Price, June 1980 Audio).
By diminishing Christ’s vicarious sacrifice, by looking elsewhere other than the Cross for our Atonement, and by elevating Satan throughout the Passion, the Word of Faith teachers have relegated Christ to an afterthought and set up an idol suitable to their own appetites.
Further Word of Faith Heresy
One of the concepts the Word of Faith spout, that is clearly unbiblical, is that anyone could have made the sacrifice necessary in the forgiving of sins. This view, based upon an aberrant belief as to the Nature of Christ, in that, instead of being the Divine, Eternal, and Co-existent Second Person of the Godhead who came in the Flesh to redeem His people for Himself, leads to the belief that Christ is an exalted man, an adopted son, or that He consist of two persons simultaneously, or worse yet, that anyone could have done it. In case Copeland, a Word of Faith Leader, and others are unaware of this, it is rank heresy to proclaim that anyone, other than Jesus, could have perfectly, innocently, and vicariously died on the Cross for the remission of sins.
God, in His Infinite Wisdom and Omniscience, because of which He knows all things and causes all things to come to pass through His Divine Providence, stated in Genesis 3 that the coming Messiah would crush the head of Satan though His heal would be bruised. It was further revealed that through faithful Abraham that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed ( Genesis 18:18 ) and that there would be a prophet greater than Moses that would come (Deuteronomy 18:15, Acts 3:22 ). It was also declared in Holy Scripture, by the prophet Isaiah, that He would be Immanuel, God with us ( Isaiah 7:14 ) and that He would be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace….( Isaiah 9:6 ).
We read in the New Testament that in the Beginning was the Word and that Word was with God and the Word was God ( John 1 ), that Jesus and the Father are One ( John 10:30 ), that before Abraham was I AM ( John 8:58 ), and that He is the Alpha and Omega ( Revelation 1:8 ). We can know from Scripture that Jesus, as the Second Person of the Trinity, was no mere man, and as such was the only one uniquely qualified to pay for the sins of humanity.
More Problems with the Word of Faith
There is another problem with the Word of Faith Movement’s view of the Atonement and that is when it was accomplished. The Cross was God’s plan, His doing, His design, and by Him it was brought to fruition. This in no way denies the use, by God, of sinful men to bring about His purposes. It was through the wickedness of those involved that the Cross was possible, but it was no happy accident in the economy of God and Satan was merely a tool to be used by the Almighty; not the sovereign of Hell torturing the Christ at his pleasure.
Take a quick look at the hand of Providence in the Cross:
Psalm 22: 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
Isaiah 50: 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Acts 2:23-24 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
God, not Satan, was fully and ultimately in control, despite the Word of Faith teachings, and there was no further punishment needed after the shedding of blood on Mount Calvary. Christ told the thief that today they would be together in paradise ( Luke 23:43 ), had prayed in the Garden that the cup ( a symbol of God’s wrath ) would pass from Him ( Matthew 26:39 ), that into your ( the Father’s ) hands I commend my spirit ( Luke 23:46 ), and very importantly that “ IT IS FINISHED “ ( John 19:30 ).
The wrath of God was poured out upon the innocent Christ on the Cross and not in the bowels of Hell at the hands of the Devil and his minions. Make note: Satan was not then, is not now, nor will he ever reign in Hell. You need to remove that pagan concept from your mind as it has no foundation in a Christian World view. “ It is Finished “ means precisely that……all that was needed to secure our salvation was done from His birth to His death: including His active and passive obedience.
Copeland’s Wormy Spirit[Demons] tortured him beyond anything that anybody has ever conceived… [Christ’s] emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit down in the bottom of that thing [hell].” – Kenneth Copeland, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne,” cassette #02-0017, 1990)
Contrary to what Copeland claims, Jesus did not become a “ wormy poured out little spirit “ and neither did He need to be born again. He ( Jesus ) never took on the nature of Satan, as claimed by Hinn and others, as Christ is fully God and fully man….not fully God, fully man, and fully Satan on the Cross. This blasphemous assertion without any Biblical basis is enough to turn our hearts and heads from them.
Paul, in the book of Colossians, tells us unequivocally that on the Cross, not in Hell, Jesus made an open show and put to shame the powers of darkness all the while nailing the handwriting of ordinances against us to it:
Colossians 2:14-16 English Standard Version (ESV)
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
It was not in Hell that our salvation was won, as touted by Word of Faith proponents, but upon the Cross where the wrath of God against sin was poured out on my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Holy one of Israel did not see corruption ( Psalm 16:10 ) and tasted death for all believers ( Hebrews 2:9 ) so that we should have life.
It is by the precious blood of Christ that we are forgiven and brought into the Family of God. I thank God for the Lamb who willingly went to the slaughter on my behalf so that I would not have to….taking my sin upon Himself and placing His righteousness upon me.
Who is responsible for salvation?