(13)Word-of-Faith Teachings are sugar-coated poisons.

The Prosperity gospel also known as Word of Faith,

Prosperity theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, Word-Faith

or simply Faith, is an often un-orthodox movement within

Pentecostal and charismatic churches worldwide. Its central

doctrine is that worldly health and prosperity are promised

to all believers, and are available through faith, though this

is generally never explicitly stated in the Bible in the context

which most churches use it in, and in most cases fails to be

Biblically supported due to 1 John 2:15. it has also become

known as “Health and Wealth”, although this is a term

usually applied perjoratively by its critics. Other names,

reflecting major aspects of the movement, include

“Name it and claim it” and “Positive Confession”.

Origins

 

Word-Faith teachings trace their roots to Essek Kenyon

(1867-1948), a New England evangelical pastor who taught

that health and finances were the right of every believer

who would claim the promises of Scripture through faith.

Claiming promises was done by believing and verbally

confessing the relevant scriptures, and thus Kenyon

coined the phrase, “What I confess, I possess.”

 

Pentecostal preacher Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003), of

Tulsa, Oklahoma, was heavily influenced by Kenyon’s

writings, and began teaching the same doctrines as early

as the 1930s. Hagin is often referred to as being the

“father” of the modern Word-Faith, movement. He

elaborated on Kenyon’s theology of confession,

preaching a four-part formula for receiving God’s

promises: “Say it; do it; receive it; tell it.”

Other preachers in Tulsa were mentored by

“Dad” Hagin, and began to preach the same doctrines.

The most prominent of these is Kenneth Copeland.

 

Healing 

The Word-Faith movement teaches that physical

healing was included in Christ’s atonement, and therefore

is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently

cited in favor of the doctrine is Isaiah 53:5: “By his stripes

we are healed.”

 

Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense (“we are healed”),

many of the most prominent Faith preachers teach that

believers should deny the symptoms of sickness, and

instead positively confess that they are already healed.

Sickness is an attempt by Satan to rob believers of their

divine right to total health.

Most do not openly advocate dispensing with medical

treatment, although some, such as Fred Price, have

claimed to be strong enough in faith that they no longer

need medicine.

 

Little ‘gods’ 

A common Faith teaching is that believers are

“little gods”, a known catchphrase of the New Age

movement. Kenneth Hagin wrote that God “made us in

the same class of being that He is himself,” and that the

believer is “called Christ” because “that’s who were are,

we’re Christ!”

According to Hagin, by being “born again”, the believer

becomes “as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth”.

Kenneth Copeland says Adam was “not a little like God …

not almost like God … not subordinate to God even”,

and has told believers that “You don’t have a God in you.

You are one.”

A common theme in Word-Faith preaching is that God

created man as “an exact duplication of God’s kind.”

The generally New Age attitudes of these sort of writers

often betray a lack of respect for God’s authority, and

are possibliy violations of the 1st commandment; their

attitudes could somewhat be classified as dangerous,

due to the apparent elevation of man to god-like status

they seem to preach.

This has predictably proved one of the most contentious

doctrines with the movement’s critics, who consider it

heresy. Hanegraaff contends the ‘little gods’ doctrine is

on a par with the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh

Yogi and Jim Jones.

In response, Faith defenders have claimed the teaching

is simply underscoring the biblical view of the believer’s

“true identity in Christ”, and is no more heretical than

similar-sounding claims by C.S. Lewis and the Eastern

Orthodox Church, though they seem to have cited no

verses in the Bible or specified anything from the Eastern

Orthodoxy or C.S. Lewis to substantiate this claim.

 

Prosperity 

According to Word-Faith theology, financial prosperity

and wealth was also included in the Atonement. This is

based on an interpretation of the words of

the apostle Paul: “Yet for your sakes he became poor,

that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

It is frequently taught that Jesus and the apostles were rich,

and therefore believers should expect the same financial

success. However, Jesus spoke of those who follow Him as

being “out of the world”, and that one should not store up

worldly wealth where rust and decay can ruin things, but

rather, to obtain treasure and riches in heaven. It is likely

that the Word-Faith theology concerning this subject fails

to understand (or simply ignores) the context of the New

Testament, which certainly appears to relate to riches in

heaven as opposed to riches of the world.

 

Faith & confession 

In Word-Faith teaching, the central element of faith is

“confession”. The doctrine is often labelled “Positive

Confession”. Noted Word-Faith teachers such as Hagin

and Charles Capps have argued that God created the

universe through the power of the spoken word (Genesis 1),

and that humans were created with the same power to

speak things into being by their words. Thus, making a

positive confession (by reciting a promise of Scripture,

for example) has the power to cause things to happen.

Word-Faith preachers have likened faith to a “force”,

which may mean that they consider man’s faith to be

causing things to happen all on its own as opposed to

God causing people’s prayers to come true.

Conversely, according to Word-Faith teaching,

“negative confession” can bring about negative results,

and therefore believers should be careful to watch their

words. This is often based on a literal interpretations of

Proverbs 18:21: “Life and death are in the power of the

tongue, and they that love them will eat the fruit thereof.”

Preachers & ministries

 

Proponents of the doctrine in the United States include

Creflo Dollar, Frederick K.C. Price, Benny Hinn, JOEL OSTEEN,

Marilyn Hickey, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, Jesse Duplantis,

Oral Roberts, Joyce Meyer, John Avanzini and Keith Butler,

among others. Many of these pastors appear regularly on the

Trinity Broadcasting Network, whose founders and directors

Paul and Jan Crouch are also proponents of the Word-Faith

doctrine.

In Australia, Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church promotes

Word-Faith doctrine. In South Africa, Ray McCauley is the

movement’s chief proponent, and in the United Kingdom,

Clive Pick and Paul Scanlon are among the main Word-Faith

preachers.

 

Critics & controversy

One of the earliest critics of the movement was Oral Roberts

University’s Professor Charles Farah, who published From the

Pinnacle of the Temple in 1979. In the book, Farah expressed

his disillusionment with the movement’s teachings, which he

argued were more about presumption than faith.

 

The following decade was to see several severe critiques of the

movement, including Dan R. McConnell’s A Different Gospel,

in which the author followed the research of scholar Dale H.

Simmons in suggesting that the Faith teachings had their origin

in the metaphysical cults of the 19th century, in particular

New Thought and Christian Science.

 

In 1993, Hank Hanegraaff‘s Christianity in Crisis charged the

Faith movement with heresy, and accused many of its

churches of being “cults“. He accused the Faith teachers of

“demoting” God and Jesus, and “deifying” man and Satan,

as per the Word-Faith proponents frequent comments

mostly affirming this belief of theirs.

 

Other critics, such as Ole Anthony, Norman Geisler,

Dave Hunt and Roger Oakland, have denounced Word-Faith

theology as aberrant and contrary to the teachings of the

Bible.

Critics have also condemned the teachings on wealth,

arguing that the Bible condemns the pursuit of riches,

which it most certainly does. Proverbs 23:4, Proverbs 28:20,

1 Timothy 6:7-10, Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:23-25

Luke 18:24-25

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