(23)My Word-of-Faith Testimony
by Tricia Tillin
I do not like putting my own testimony online, because
that seems self-indulgent. I would not do so simply for
reasons of arrogance. But in the interests of helping others,
I would like to share my own experiences with Positive
Confession or Word-Faith or the Word of Faith Movement.
LED INTO THE PATH
I was born again in 1965 within the sphere of the UK
Anglican church, and fellowshipped in various denominations,
some of them charismatic. By the 1980’s the Charismatic
Renewal was well under way, but it was turning towards
Restorationism. I felt disappointed with that, and at the same
time dissatisfied with the level of spirituality of the normal
British church, and felt a need to seek out more lively
fellowship. A friend told me about Kenneth Copeland’s
ministry which was just then trying to establish itself. I began
to receive his magazine, and friends lent me his tapes.
This seemed just what I was looking for! It was fresh, positive,
exciting, and full of deeper biblical knowledge. I wanted to
move on. I wanted to know God in a deeper way, and to
fellowship with those who did not sneer at miracles.
The Copeland Ministry was one of the few ministries that
approved of the gifts of the Spirit. They also seemed to go
further than just the routine evangelistic scriptures, and to
be unafraid of shaking the conventional “religious”
Instead of dour negativism and lack-lustre worship, the
Copeland Ministry seemed alive with life. Far from being
afraid and suspicious of spiritual things, the Copelands actually
encouraged them. In place of a resigned attitude of “we must
accept pain and suffering” the Copelands preached victory,
healing, and the defeat of the devil. We didn’t need to be
defeated any more – Jesus had won the battle and had set
us free! All this was music to my ears.
And speaking of music —! The music of the ministry was
gloriously upbeat, full of victorious confessions of faith.
It lifted my spirits and helped focus my mind on the positive
side of the Bible.
In fact, there just wasn’t anything else like it at the time,
in the UK. In the 80’s we began to be very concerned about
the Shepherding doctrines, and the Charismatic Renewal
eventually went down the Restoration path. But (at that time)
the Word-of-Faith Movement came out against Shepherding
and the two Movements did not mix. Indeed, one Word-Of-Faith
leader, Hobart Freedman, wrote a major article against the
shepherding doctrines. So that was another reason for making
the Word-Of-Faith choice.
But often we swallow the bait, not realising there’s a hook
inside it. It was some time before I found blood in my mouth
from chewing on that hook.
Eventually, I had the opportunity to attend one of the Copeland
conferences, being held in Britain for the first time. It was
arranged at a small theatre complex in Birmingham, and
compared with today’s Conferences it was small. Only a
few hundred attended. Copeland’s ministry in the UK was
a minority interest.
Nonetheless, it was exciting to see the Copelands on stage
for the first time. Somehow I expected more, but the thrill
of the moment kept me going. It was unusual for me to meet
so many positive-minded Christians, and apart from the
meetings in which we wrote copious notes, we enjoyed
most of all the communal praise and worship for which
British Christians are famous, and fellowshipping with
hundreds of like-minded believers. This was new and very
The Copeland Ministry, however, badly misjudged the needs
of the British. They hadn’t done their homework! They expected
us to be as sophisticated as the Americans in our worship and
church life, not realising that the churches of the UK are staid,
old, small and totally non-commercial.
So, it was a mistake to bring a professional singer with a backing
band, and send her onstage like a TV act. The audience sat quiet
(stunned) throughout, and gave a polite clap at the end. This was
not right – performances in a Christian meeting! It was almost
as bad as putting on a play in the local church.
After a couple of “spots” the poor lady realised she was up
against it, and gave up trying. The Copelands learned their
lesson. They didn’t bring other performers until we Brits had
been re-educated in such things!
What we wanted was corporate singing of choruses. This was
in the style of the Pentecostals, and Holiness groups, with a
dash of Anglican hymn-singing thrown in. We were used to
corporate worship, and that’s how we praised God in song,
NOT by listening to a solo performance from a professional
act!!! (Oh, how things have changed!)
Anyway, despite that we forgave the Copelands, and enjoyed
the meetings. We bought a pile of booklets (the high prices
for these was a shock but we were told how we needed to
support the ministry, and in any case any money we spent
would be repaid to us under the principle of the “hundredfold”.)
WAS COPELAND A FALSE PROPHET?
On a high after the Conferences, we were not in a mood to be
brought down to earth. But there were those who tried to
turn our heads away from our beloved Copelands, and to
point out some problems.
One troubling thing was a prophecy that Ken Copeland had
given at the 1983 Full Gospel Businessmen’s National
Convention in Birmingham, UK. I had a printed copy of this,
and it promised some specific things about Britain.
The Prophecy, given in June 1983, said that our time and
our hour had come, and the visitation of the Lord had come to
England. It said the revival had come, and would grow.
It promised “tens of thousands” of conversions and a mighty
flood of the power of the Spirit from coast to coast.
AND HE PROMISED THIS BY MID 1983.
He prophesied that, by September 1983, the amount of
people in the conference hall would have doubled, and by
October it would have tripled. Then followed promises that
we are now familiar with, about people falling at our feet
in supermarkets, and our faces shining with the glory and
the whole nation coming under conviction – and so on.
Even I had to admit he’d been wrong. At the Conference I’d
just attended there were probably FEWER attending, not MORE.
The great revival had clearly not happened, and the doubling
and tripling of numbers at the Copeland meetings had also not
occurred. How could I explain this? Was Copeland a false
Well, in my eyes, definitely not. I had found something good,
and a minor hiccup would not deter me from the path. The
Copelands were all I needed, spiritually mature, strong and
full of wisdom. Maybe they made a few mistakes – but so what?
So I shoved this to the back of my mind, and logged it
under “unexplained mysteries”.
The Lord Tries to open My Eyes
After the annual Conference, things settled down to routine again.
I was practising all the things I was reading, speaking
affirmations, taking authority over my body and my
circumstances, calling things into being that were not, and
sowing seeds financially – money that we did not have and could
not afford. Yet I was soaring in the rarefied atmosphere of “faith”
and whatever I visualised I claimed was mine, evidence or no.
I rarely had any physical encouragement to believe. Once or
twice there were healings of headaches or colds, but usually
I had to admit my confessions and visualisation and
affirmations made no difference to my material circumstances.
That didn’t put me off, though. I knew I had to develop my faith
by memorising the words of scripture, so I bought scripture
tapes and sang scripture choruses to help myself bury the
Word deep in my mind.
It was all hard work, but I was prepared to do any amount of
hard work to reap the rewards that the Copelands so obviously
had (at least, so I read in their magazines.) They talked about
major miracles happening like the restoration of a crippled
baby, blind eyes seeing again, cancers disappearing. I’d never
witnessed such things, and I longed to see miracles at a meeting,
so I looked forward to the 1985 Conference with great anticipation.
From time to time our friends would criticise the Faith teachers,
and I was indignant and angry – very defensive about the
Copelands, and Hagin, and the other people we had come to know
and love as our Teachers in Faith. When people said they were
living in luxury, owning grand houses, planes, cars and so on,
I would defend them hotly. After all, they were God’s ministers,
and He was rewarding them! Why shouldn’t they be blessed
financially – they had sowed the seed and now God was
repaying the hundredfold.
And healing – my faith was absolute that NO illness or disease
should come upon a believer who was living in the faith realm.
I understood perfectly that Jesus had taken all disease at the
Cross, and therefore we had complete authority over it.
Whenever I felt any kind of physical discomfort, prayer would
be my first port of call, and I despised any who turned to pills
or the Doctor. Medical intervention was a sign of weak faith!
It would have done no good whatsoever to point out to me that,
despite my high level of faith and my profound grasp of the
scriptures, I had exactly the same amount of physical problems
as any other Christian in my fellowship. It probably puzzled me
at the time, but it would have done no good to point this out
to me. Everything could be explained by my lack of faith.
I just wasn’t doing it right. I had to work harder to know the
scriptures and to confess them even bolder than before, that
was all. If ONLY I could get rid of my doubts, and be in perfect
Anything that opened me to doubt and “negativity” I ruthlessly
rejected or destroyed. I would not listen to tapes that
criticised the Faith message. I would not read the books or
booklets I was offered about the fallacies of the Movement.
These, in my mind, were all judgmental and jealous attacks
written by people who had no understanding of the ways
of the Spirit. They would only tend to lead me into doubt,
so I turned off my mind and refused to look at them.
The money problem will seem familiar to anyone who has
gone down this path. Jon and I longed to be able to pay off
our debts, to make ends meet, and to end the ceaseless worry
about money matters. We knew the theory – send your
tenpercent tithe every month to your Church or ministry
as your seed, and expect God to bless you financially.
And give beyond that title as a love offering, even if you
can’t afford it, because God will repay.
Oh yes, we knew the theory, and we believed it absolutely.
Nobody can criticise us for sowing in doubt. We faithfully
sowed our seeds of money, and we tithed every single month,
ten percent of our income. The trouble is, we simply could
not afford to give away that much every month. It made no
economic sense whatsoever. We were giving out of our need,
as they say, but never reaping. Strange.
God did bless us in our ignorance and he kept us afloat, but as
for “the hundredfold” – where was it? Not that we looked for
reward, but it would have been nice to make ends meet
It was a black day for me when we finally admitted we could no
longer afford to give away so much of our income. That is
anathema to the Faith teaching! What? Not give your ten percent
tithe? But the Bank Manager, and simple common sense, warned
us to pull back before we lost the house and everything.
And as for the crazy “faith ventures” that I embarked on, and
persuaded Jon to embark on – I shudder now to think of them
and the lunacy of believing that God would lead me into such
Praying for a Family
One of the things closest to our hearts at that time was that we
wanted a child. We had prayed and believed for years, and
had “personal prophecies” about it – but still nothing. We nearly
gave in and went to the Doctor, but at the last minute I felt it
was a slap in God’s face, and we should trust Him, for would He
not give us the desires of our heart?
Then one day a magazine arrived from another Faith ministry
(I forget which) and it was offering sponsorships of orphan
children overseas. (I now know, through investigative reporting
by others , that many such schemes are a scam, and just a
money-making machine for the ministries. However, at the time
I believed every word I read.)
It came to me (from the Lord as I believed) that if we were to give
a large seed into this ministry for the sake of supporting an
orphan, God would answer our prayer for a baby. I expect you
are ahead of me by now, and can anticipate – as I could not at
the time – what grief lay ahead when we put this bold plan into
The cheque was written – a huge amount – and with much prayer
and faith confession it was put into the post. But, as the days
passed my faith wore thin, and I could no longer even kid myself
that it was God who had caused us to do such a thing. I did not
conceive, and I can remember going out with a couple of friends
and their family, and sitting on the swings of the playground
just swinging back and forth in a daze of grief, disappointment
and anger. Why had God not answered my prayer of faith?
How had I failed?
A couple of times, it came to mind that perhaps it wasn’t the
Lord’s will for us to have a family, but then my Word-of-Faith
training clicked in, and I resolutely rejected this doubt from
the devil. I repeated what I’d learned, that if His words abide
in us, we can ask WHATSOEVER we will, and God WILL give
it to us, because our desires are conformed to His. Failure
is not an option.
The idea that God could withhold something that I desperately
wanted was a heresy! But I had forgotten that God is the
Almighty, the Omniscient Lord, and he knows everything –
He knows the end from the beginning. In His greater wisdom
and His greater knowledge of my life, He knew that when
my calling to be a minister came, it would have been
impossible for me to obey fully with a young family to care for.
Which was the higher calling – to be a mother, or to be a
minister of God in the endtimes? God knew, but I did not.
In my small perception, God was the great Provider who was
forced by His own Word to give us everything we asked for,
so long as we couched it in biblical promises.
Faith doctrines in effect demanded that God conform to
our own perception of what was good for us, and it removed
from God the ability to make independent decisions in our lives,
and to work all things together for good in the long run.
In the Faith movement, we had been taught that God could
do nothing without our believing prayer. Kenneth Hagin
even described an incident when he met God in a vision,
and a demon came between them. Hagin expected the Lord
to rebuke it, but he did not. Eventually, he told Hagin that
He (God) could not rebuke it, because He had given that
authority and task to man – if Ken Hagin did not rebuke the
devil, then God could not. So the teaching was that God
could not move nor answer prayer except we released
Him by our faith. A God who acted independently was
somewhat confusing to us.
Several months passed before we realised one tremendous
thing that God HAD done for us. (I think it was one of those
days when God looked down on his foolish, innocent ones
and had mercy. Oh how great is his love and pity!). The
cheque was never cashed! Either it was lost in the mail,
or the ministry didn’t cash it for some reason. Whatever,
the money was never taken from our overdrawn bank
account. Praise God.
Thinking about this, I had a revelation about God’s way of
working. HE had taken the initiative, to do something I had
neither prayed for, sought for nor known about. There were
no positive confessions of the Word that caused Him to act
on our behalf. He simply did so in a sovereign way. And, He’d
done something that my own mind and my own flawed
human understanding could not have anticipated.
God was outside my understanding, acting of His own s
overeign will. He did not NEED my confessions or spoken
words to do what he’d done for me on that day.
Living By Faith
Another “faith venture” was that we decided we should live out
our faith by working fulltime for the Lord. We decided to travel
to the Bath headquarters of the Copeland ministry, and offer
ourselves there for service. We had expected an office of
some kind, but perhaps not a small untidy room up the
back stairs of a shop, off the high street. However, that’s not
important. We were met at the door by a rather ruffled lady
who was clearly not that pleased to see us. (But hadn’t they
said in the magazine that they’d be glad to see any of us, any
The poor lady was as gracious as she could be in the
circumstances, but we’d arrived at a bad time. There was
obviously a deadline to be met, and she was busy. None of this
occurred to us at the time. How selfish we can be. We thought
this place would be a sanctuary of grace and faith, pulsating
with the new life of the Copelands. We thought it would be a
kind of Temple where we’d find validation and certainty.
Instead, as we stood uncomfortably aware of our lack of
welcome amongst the piled up boxes on the floor,
we sensed it was all too ordinary!
Furthermore, our suggestions that we come and work for the
Bath team were met, not with ecstasies of joy, and praises to
God that we were about to sacrifice our lives and careers for
the noble cause of truth – no, but with a ho-hum “well, we’ll
see; there’s not much need for anyone at present” and more
of the same, while the lady tried to back us out of the door.
Something else was wrong, too. In the course of conversation
we’d mentioned the Shepherding Movement and our objections
to it, assuming the Copeland worker would agree wholeheartedly.
Strangely, she did not. She was evasive, would not condemn
shepherding doctrines, and then said that there had been a
change of heart and the Copeland ministry would now be
working more closely with the Shepherding leadership,
and we should be praying for unity between them.
This was devastating! Formerly they agreed shepherding
was in error, but now they’d changed their minds, and were
going to work alongside eachother!
We travelled home again silent, and thinking about the rebuff
we had just had. Our hopes for full-time ministry, living by faith
as the Copelands did, had been dashed. Why did God reject us?
Didn’t He want us? We had failed again.
It was incidents like this that began to shake me loose from
the stranglehold of absolute faith in the Faith Teachings.
Others things were also happening. Despite the fact I would
never listen to “negative” input – and Copeland even
recommended that we do not read the daily newspaper,
since that was full of negative things – God was hammering
away at my beliefs, speaking His revelations into my spirit
as I prayed and meditated on the Word.
Thoughts About Healing
One stumblingblock to faith, and something we could not
understand, was the number of friends who genuinely prayed
for healing and did not receive it, and Jon and I also
experienced these medical setbacks. There was a cute
little boy, the young son of a Christian family known to us,
who was diagnosed with leukaemia. We all prayed, and we
rebuked the enemy, we took authority, we quoted all the
scriptures and claimed a complete restoration for this little
boy – yet he died. How could this happen?
My eyesight was very poor, and I couldn’t understand how
God would not heal my eyesight, despite hours and hours
of positive confessions. I truly was “in faith” for healing,
but it never happened. I would walk around “by faith”
without my glasses, stumbling into things and unable to
see beyond the end of my nose. My friends even threatened
to remove my glasses and stamp on them, as this would be a
positive action reinforcing my faith. But all of this made not
the slightest difference to my eyes. Where was I failing?
According to the Faith doctrines, there is no mountain too
huge to remove by our faith, and whatsoever we say will be
given unto us, as long as it lines up with the Bible. Healing was
a given; no disease or bodily lack had the right to afflict
a believer, so we could confidently expect God to remove
our infirmities. But as for me, despite my faith, God seemed
to have let me down. Why?
Then there was the problem of illness in the scriptures, such
as Paul’s thorn, the “many illnesses” of Timothy, (1 Tim 5:23)
and the sickness of Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20). I comforted
myself by reading all kinds of explanations for the instances
of illness in believers, but somehow they never rang true.
It seemed like the Faith teachers were twisting the scriptures
to fit their own belief in the absolute absence of illness for a
believer. Yes, I did believe we should pray in faith for healing,
and I did believe God had made a provision for healing in his
Word – yet was it as all-encompassing as the Faith teachers
said? Were there not instances in scripture and in the life of
Christians where God allowed illness, deformity or weakness
in a believer’s life for a higher purpose? There did seem to be.
I just could not square these two ideas. (Another entry for the
“unexplained mysteries” section of my mind!)
THE SECOND CONFERENCE
Well, the time came round again for the Conference, this time
in Brighton. It was held around the Halloween weekend, and
began on October 28th 1985, with a full moon and an eclipse!
Now I should preface this by saying that Jon and I could not
afford to go away from home and stay in a hotel for the week.
Despite this, we felt it would be a faith-venture if we believed
for the money, and we had had somewhat of a miracle in
finding a free room in a guest house within walking distance
of the Conference Centre. So we felt it was God’s will for us to go.
The weather was cold and wet. We arrived at the guest house
to find it was rather squalid, and that our room was an attic at
the very top of the building. It was just about large enough for
the two creaky single beds and a grubby wash basin. The
carpets were torn and looked as if they had not been cleaned
for years. Dust lay everywhere. Nonetheless, we counted
ourselves blessed to have this room, since we were prepared
to make any sacrifice in order to be with God’s people and to
seek God’s power and blessing.
The first meeting began at 7pm, in a large auditorium. The
numbers of people had grown and there were now several
hundreds attending. However, the meeting was oddly
powerless and disappointing. The singing was uninspired.
When Ken Copeland came onto stage, he seemed confused
and disjointed. His preaching lacked conviction. I thought
somebody like Copeland flowed in the anointing all the time,
and I was not prepared to believe that he’d missed it. But he had.
Also, Copeland was determined to push a song that somebody
had written. Copeland believed God wanted to use the song
greatly to change the world. It was a nice enough song, about
love. BUT, he made us learn it word by word, sing it, repeat it
over and over – and really, it wasn’t any big deal, just a song.
I could not agree there was anything special about it. But he
was forcing everybody to sing this song. I was irritated. I felt I
should pray that the spirit of heaviness lifted and that the
Holy Spirit would lead Copeland to preach what HE wanted.
The next evening, Copeland rebuked satan in the hall, and
things went a little smoother, but the level of teaching was
poor and repetitive. I realised with some horror that Copeland
was using talks that he’d put out on tape and preached in many
different places. I had heard it all before, from tapes and the
“Voice of Victory” magazine. He was just repeating himself,
word for word. I felt cheated.
A Terrible Setback
The next evening, something else happened that shook me.
Before Copeland came on stage, a “warm-up-man” appeared
to conduct a little singing and a talk. (Also to pump us for
money each evening!). As it happened this man (whose name
I cannot now remember, I’m afraid, for he was surely a true
man of God) was led to reach out to “the broken-hearted”
and to those who felt let-down, rejected, misunderstood
and were having a hard time in their church fellowships, etc.
A lot of people in the UK felt that way, including me. I’m not
normally emotional in public, but I was in tears as the Holy
Spirit touched the needs in my life. The man called us to the
front where we believed we would receive a healing touch
from God – something we desperately needed. Many were
in tears. It was a precious moment.
BUT – just as the man was about to pray for us, Copeland
bounced onto stage. (Later, I thought about it, and realised
he was jealous, and felt this man was taking on too much for
Copeland began to tell us what we needed was to praise God,
jump for joy and thank God for releasing us. The mood was
instantly broken and the sense of the Lord’s healing presence
totally fled. Copeland made us jump up and down on the spot
and shout praises, and you could tell we didn’t really want to.
We needed to hear from God about our situation, and we
needed to have his sweet Spirit minister to our broken hearts.
But that was all over now. The moment was lost. We were told to
go back rejoicing to our seats, and we obediently did so.
Praying Against the Devil
On October 31st, we were asked to come to the hall half an hour
early to pray against the demonic influences oppressing the
meetings. It had been discovered that a group of satanists was
meeting locally and on Halloween night they intended
having a big powerful meeting. Halloween is not celebrated
as a public holiday in the UK as it is in America and the
commercial elements are not there. Instead, it’s a time for the
pagans, witches, new-agers and anyone else who believes in
these things to practise their arts. Halloween can be a time
of trouble and oppression for Christians.
Again, the prayer seemed artificially induced. We were told to
pray in tongues together, out loud. We did so, but unless the
Lord is guiding prayer, and unless prayer is in His Spirit, it is
merely noise. We made a lot of noise, but we weren’t really
praying. How could Copeland not know this, I wondered?
I awoke to Friday morning – the last day of the Conference,
and still my overall impression was that Copeland had not
been flowing in the Spirit, and the meetings had been dull
and powerless. Where was the spiritual inspiration, the praise
to God, the genuine move of the Spirit that I longed for?
I woke up heavy and sad, with a great prayer burden. If things
did not go better tonight, then all was lost.
Thankfully, just before the meeting Jon decided to go for a walk,
so I could pour out my heart to God in prayer as I wanted, in our
little attic room. It was like the old times, and I had a great
release in prayer. I had been praying for the meeting and for
the Copelands, but it seemed that God was speaking to ME
personally. I was led to the scriptures, and to Isaiah 61.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath
anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath
sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to
the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are
bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and
the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them
beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of
praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called
trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he
might be glorified….. But ye shall be named the Priests of
the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye
shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye
boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and
for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in
their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy
shall be unto them. Isa 61:1-7 (KJV)
Although this was principally about the coming restoration of
Israel, it also spoke to me about my personal restoration –
especially that He would bind up the broken-hearted, and
that “for your shame you shall have double”. I thought it spoke
about the meeting and that at last we would see a breakthrough
into truly spiritual praise and teaching. (But it was speaking of a
time beyond that, a day I could know nothing about, a day
hidden in God’s heart.)
Copeland Teaches JDS
On Friday evening, Copeland decided to teach us “a new
revelation” from the Word. It was indeed new to me.
While delighted to be led into this exciting new pathway,
it troubled me that I had been a Christian for 20 years,
and had a deep understanding of the Word, but had
never been led by the Holy Spirit to see what Copeland
saw – that Jesus had to die spiritually! Yes, Copeland
decided to preach the JDS teaching.
This teaching has become one of the most notorious of all
the faith teachings (But it was new to me then.) It teaches
that the physical death and the outpoured blood of Jesus
on the Cross were not sufficient to atone for man’s sin,
but that Jesus had to take the very nature of the devil,
become a fallen man, and be tortured in hell for three
days and nights before the Father released him as the
first born-again man.
I followed Copeland’s reasoning, and made notes in my
Bible. In part, it made sense, but then Copeland’s handling
of the scriptures kept worrying me. He based a crucial
doctrine on this passage:
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art
my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be
to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? Heb 1:5 (KJV)
Copeland’s point was this, as I recall. That Jesus was the Son
of Man, in being born of a Virgin, but he was begotten of God
when the Father raised him from hell. Therefore, Jesus was
born-again. He was born twice, once as the Son of Man and
AGAIN as the Son of God, when the Father rescued Jesus
Copeland pointed out those words “and again…” and said, this
meant “again I will be unto him a father…”
Now, I knew something about the construction of the English
language. That phrase “and again…” had absolutely NOTHING
to do with Jesus being born twice! It’s simply a device used in
the King James to link a number of similar quotes. You can easily
check this out by cross-referencing passages like Romans 15:10-12.
Things like that puzzled me. I later realised that I was doing what
most people in the same situation do – they lie to themselves!
Whenever something came up that knocked Copeland’s shiny
image in my eyes, I justified him to myself. I covered up his
false prophecies, and scriptural errors. I defended his lack
of spiritual discernment, all because I wanted to believe in him.
I didn’t really hear what the Copelands said, I heard my own
mentally adjusted, scripturally correct, version of what they said.
Arrogance and Pride
Something that I DID hear, and it offended me, was this. Jerry
Savelle was at that time Copeland’s protégé. He travelled with him,
and I believe he was there in 1985 (or I may have heard this at a
different meeting.) Savelle was boasting about himself and his
ministry, and how he’d travelled the world, to Third World
countries, too. He told us how it was a real sacrifice on his part
to do these things. It’s isn’t easy to minister in these foreign
countries, he said. “I mean, I was wearing a thousand-dollar
silk suit, and I send it down to be cleaned and they made a real
mess of it. They just don’t know how to clean good clothes in
I couldn’t believe my ears! But this was just something else I
overlooked and forgave.Each evening, there was a long appeal
for donations, and we gave something each time. On the final
evening, we felt we should make a grand gesture and sow a seed
in faith. We had just had a pep talk about the need to sow in faith,
and so forth, so we decided to give the ministry a big sum of
money. (It was £50, but in those days that was a huge sum.)
As usual, we didn’t have the money in the bank, but this was
“by faith” remember? So Jon wrote out a cheque and dropped
it into the basket. To us this was a very hard and sacrificial thing
to do. But we did it out of love and obedience, and in a desire
to support the Copeland Ministry.Then it was all over, and the
Copelands vacated the stage.
I will preface my remarks now by explaining our understanding
of ministry at that time. Jon and I, and our friends, and many
other people in the UK had experienced the charismatic
renewal through Pentecostal-style ministry which was a
hands-on, lay ministry type of thing. We had attended the Chard
conferences in the 1970’s, some of which took over the
Butlin’s holiday camp where we lived in basic chalets and ate
together at long communal tables and benches. There was not
much sense of “them and us” with the ministry team, because
the leaders were wandering about amongst us, and if you met
Harry Greenwood or Ian Andrews in the café you just had a chat
with him, like a normal person.
After the evening meetings, in those days, the ministry team
would stay at the front and people would go up and talk to them.
There would be prayers for healing or counselling, or whatever
was needful. They were servants of God, and they made
themselves available to help and to pray for the people.
By contrast, at the end of every Copeland meeting, the
“important” people like Ken and Gloria Copeland, jerry Savelle
or whoever else was in the leadership team, would dive through
the back curtains and be gone. They did not mingle with the
common folks, much less stop for a chat. They were above
Jon and I made our way to the back exit. Our guest house was
towards the back of the building, so we always went out that way.
There was a large swing-door for the people, and a smaller door
labelled “VIP EXIT”, presumably so the stars could get away
from their adoring fans all the more quickly.
Just as Jon and I went to exit the main door, this VIP exit door
opened, and out came Ken and Gloria, plus a couple of other
leaders. My heart jumped – maybe we would get to speak to
them and share our hopes and desires for spiritual renewal, or
maybe we could share some thoughts on the teaching – but as
they glanced around they looked straight through us as if we
didn’t exist, in their rush to get away. Outside stood a long
black limousine, with its engine revving. A chauffeur was in
the front seat, ready to go. We knew from information given
by friends that the Copelands and Team had booked into the
most expensive hotel in Brighton – a palace as it seemed to us.
You have to realise that in Britain we don’t do things that way.
To drive in a limousine is reserved for royalty, or TV stars, or
perhaps the Mayor – not for Christian Ministers! Who did they
think they were?
The car pulled away, spraying us with rainwater as it did so.
It was taking them to the luxury of a bright, warm, expensive
apartment. They were so far above our sphere of existence,
they did not even notice us, standing there in the rain.
It was a dark cold night. We pulled up our collars against the
driving rain and began to walk towards our little garret. We had
no car. I said to Jon “We just gave those people £50”
That statement summed it all up. The scales dropped from
our eyes. We saw the Copelands as they really were, and we no
longer worshipped them. Later, somebody remarked to me
that the Copelands preach faith for prosperity, but their own
wealth has come from your and my donations!! They don’t live
by faith at all, they live off us poor people!
Was it God, or us?
Although we had seen the light as regards the Copelands, we still
believed in faith teachings, and practised them daily. It was
about this time that we bought Hagin’s Bible Study series in order
to follow a daily bible course, to increase our faith. We faithfully
followed the book, doing one portion per day. As we did so,
both of us became troubled. As we drank in, day by day,
the teachings on prayer and faith, it seemed that the focus
was all upon what WE had to do, and what WE could achieve,
rather than upon Jesus. I remember saying to Jon – reading
this book, it’s like we don’t need Jesus at all! THAT troubled me.
Just one short passage from the book gives a flavour:
Four steps to be taken in order to see our prayers answered:
1.Decide what you want from God
2.Search the Bible for scriptures that promise the answer
3.Ask God for the things you want
4.Believe that you receive – have a stubborn faith that refuses to
look at circumstances. Never doubt for one minute that you
have the answer.
Constant and reliable answers to prayer were promised, not
failure to receive. That had not been my experience. But since
God never failed, and since God had promised ” he shall have
whatsoever he SAITH”, the failure, according to Hagin, was that
we did not speak positively enough. Indeed, speaking a negative
confession – saying “I have a cold” – was inviting the devil to
bring misfortune, because “we have whatsoever we say”.
At this time, too, we were introducing our next-door neighbour
to the Faith doctrine. He was a simple soul and took most things
literally. I remember that he came in one day and told to us in a
very distraught manner that he’d made a negative confession.
He said he had been praying for a newer car (his was falling to
bits) but that he’d blown his chances now, sadly – he’d said out
loud to his wife that he didn’t believe they could afford a new
car. So he had lost his chance of God’s blessing by speaking a
negative confession. He was very downcast about this.
He couldn’t put the words back into his mouth and now he’d
lost his car!
That seemed preposterous, even to me – but it’s what WE had
shown him. I felt responsible for creating a blockage in this
young man’s life. If God wanted to bless him with a new car,
then He would. This young man had been led into fear,
not faith. His God was a fickle being who was swayed by a
foolish utterance, and one unguarded moment had lost him
God’s blessing – or so he believed.
Even though this was a parody of the faith message, it
occurred to me that the whole system was open to
misinterpretation and was causing stumbling blocks amongst
the immature. Was this the faith of the Bible, or a doctrinal
system of rules and rituals that people had to LEARN before
they could be successful? And what of the weak, and ignorant?
They could never LEARN how to make the system work, so
they could never reach the heights of victory and blessing.
Is this what God intended for his people?
Jon and I pressed on with the Study Books, but increasingly
we felt ill at ease with them. “Where does God come into all this?”
we asked. It’s all about OUR faith, and OUR use of the Word.
Chapter headings such as “How to Write Your Own Ticket
With God” and “You Can have What You Say” jarred my spirit
– not because I was lacking in faith or bound by religious
dogma, but because I knew and loved God through Jesus Christ
– and this wasn’t the way I saw God or Jesus, as beings to be
manipulated into providing everything we wanted.
I had more respect for the Almighty than that. And besides,
my own experience in the Christian life had taught me that
you DON’T get “all you say”, even if you say it continually,
with faith. There are some things that God loves you enough
NOT to give!
The emphasis on prosperity for all believers jarred also.
Don’t get me wrong. I had nothing against the principle that
God blesses and provides for his people, and I did see
prosperity as a blessing from God. However, this was again
taken to extremes. Hagin wrote “God wants his children to
eat the best, to wear the best clothing, to drive the best cars,
and he wants them to have the best of everything.”
In an ideal world, maybe. But I also subscribed to a few
missionary support groups and charities, and I knew from
the literature that arrived that beloved, God-fearing believers
in other parts of the country were not only impoverished,
but sometimes starving, unclothed and dying.
Others were in prison for their faith. Did this mean they were
unable to exercise faith to receive “the best of everything”
or was God being partisan in only blessing people in
affluent Western countries?
GOD SPOKE — AND SUDDENLY I KNEW
During those days, I pondered all these things. You know, you
always remember where you were when God spoke to your heart.
I remember precisely and I can still picture the scene. I was
standing in front of the kitchen sink, doing the washing up and
gazing into the garden through the window. I was thinking
about the Faith issues.
Suddenly, everything became clear and it was as if God
spoke into my heart. We “had a conversation” about the
subject, and he showed me the problems with the faith
It was all to do with God’s will, and submission to His will.
Now, a Faith believer is taught that saying “if it be thy will”
is worse than swearing! We don’t pray with one eye on
God’s will, we claim the promises of scripture as a RIGHT,
for they are ours already in Jesus Christ.
Hagin wrote: “if our prayer is according to God’s Word,
it is according to His will”. (page 86, prevailing prayer to
peace). No problem. So then, God’s part is over and done
with. Hagin even says “there is nothing else God can or
will do” – in sending Jesus he restored authority and
dominion, and removed the curse, so that now it’s
entirely up to US how we handle the Word, believe
and claim the promises.
So the assumption is that God has no say in answering
prayer, except to endorse our positive confessions, which
release the promises already embedded in the Word. It is the
speaking that activates them. The magic is in the speaking,
and the words release the power of faith that brings the
blessing to us in reality.
As before, I said “where is God in all this?” Anybody could
learn this technique, even a pagan. But God spoke with me
that morning and showed me Himself – his love, his care
for us, and his greatness and knowledge. He showed me
that “having faith” was trusting in HIM, not in our
confessions, or in our ability to keep up a doubt-free frame
of mind. Faith was IN HIM, in His goodness and power,
not in ourselves in sweating out a system of faith-words,
nor in the written scriptures alone, but in the God of the Word.
If we demand, as a right, everything in the Bible, and believe
that God cannot do anything but obey our demands for
blessing, then it puts our destiny in our own hands. For we
decide what is good for us, and what we should have.
We make the decisions about career, marriage, family,
finances, churches, friends – everything. It is as if WE have
become the gods, and the Lord Almighty is the servant.
The roles are reversed, and God has no say in our lives,
beyond activating the promises of scripture.
I suddenly saw how demeaning this is to God. When I came to
Him years before, and submitted myself to Him as Lord, it was
acknowledging that He had the right to choose my way of life,
and everything else. My destiny was in HIS hands, not mine.
Indeed, I couldn’t trust myself to make those decisions on
my own behalf – I did not know what was best for me. He did.
Now could I trust HIM to lead me, inspire me, prompt me in
prayer, and bless me according to His own plans and decisions?
If bad things appeared to come, could I see them as part of the
greater and higher purposes of God? Or was I going to demand
“the best” all the while, and see any loss or defeat as a failure
Prayer had become a mantra, almost! It was a constant round
of “taking authority” and “speaking faith” and “demanding”
this that and the other, and “rebuking doubt” – none of which
was an interaction with God. It was a formula, not prayer.
It was not a loving relationship any more – I was losing sight
of my relationship with Jesus in prayer because prayer had
become a system of spiritual exercises for getting what I
wanted in life.
I no longer came to God to fellowship with Him and to know
what was His word into my life. He was squeezed out, and
replaced by faith-words and demands that He live up to his
scriptural promises. I had been taught to “find a word” then
as much as hold it over God’s head until he coughed up.
That had brought a veil between us. Now I had
rediscovered the loving, gentle Father I had always known,
and I felt ashamed for leaving him behind.
Moving Into The Truth
It was not long after that (indeed it was only six months
later, in April 1986) that God answered my desire to reach
out to the suffering and confused, and he called me to
become a Watchman. Banner Ministries was born in a
quiet way around that time, and has grown by the grace
of God to become a recognised ministry world-wide
exposing the sham and falsity of unbiblical doctrines –
like the Word of Faith teachings.
God knew what He was going to do with my life, and he needed
my willingness and submission to HIS WILL, but I had nearly
been led astray by the Faith message.
I listened again, with new ears, to the many tapes I had collected.
Suddenly I HEARD what they said, and I SAW it was in error.
I looked at the scriptures and time and again I found the
statements of the Faith teachers distorted the scriptural
meaning, and suggested things that God never intended.
PROSPERITY – WHAT IS IT?
An example of this was used at the Brighton Conference,
and even at the time it struck me as a distortion – but at that
time I overlooked it, and “rewrote” the teaching to make it
scriptural. Now, I wasn’t prepared to do so.
The passage in the third letter of John (3 Jn 1:2) “Beloved, I wish
above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health,
even as thy soul prospereth”, was always used to demonstrate
that God desires his people to “prosper” – that is, to be rich.
Prosperity was a big subject in the Faith teachings, and the
John passage seemed central to their exposition of that doctrine.
Yet this is a distortion of the scripture, because the word
“prosper” does not mean “wealth” as evidenced by the latter part
of that scripture “even as thy soul prospereth”. Souls do not
receive material wealth, although they can become rich in faith.
The word Prosper in scripture means to be “helped along the
way”, and it signifies a daily walk that is successful in all areas.
It does not simply mean that a believer “has prosperity” in
terms of being financially well-off!
Looking around, I realised that many, many devoted believers
were serving God and helping others without necessarily being
prosperous. Indeed, I knew few if any who were rich. Most
believers were struggling financially – like the believers in the
Word of God. How could I square the teaching on prosperity
with the experience of the Apostles who had nothing? And
Jesus who had nowhere to lay His head? How could I ignore
all the warnings in scripture about riches, and the attitude
of wariness towards material possessions which could prove
to be a snare? It just didn’t add up!
Little by little, the things I had so avidly held to were exposed
as deceptions. Eventually I compiled four audio tapes of
quotes from the Copeland ministries illustrating where they
were in error, and these became almost the first set of tapes
I offered on my new Banner Ministries tape list.
I also photocopied sections from the Voice of Victory magazine
and other sources, and circulated a research pack of these
selections, proving conclusively that Copeland did teach these
As proof of his teaching on JDS, I have scanned a letter written
and signed by Kenneth Copeland, issued by his office on
March 12th 1979, in which he seeks to justify his teachings that
Jesus died spiritually. I have scanned the part that says
“when his blood poured out, it did not atone…”
You can see this scan of the actual letter here. The reproduction
is poor, because the letter had been reduced in size, and
photocopied in order to be circulated. Also, somebody has both
highlighted and underlined the words. Nonetheless it IS
Genuine Truths of the Faith Movement
It is important for me to say that I did not ditch every single
thing I had learned in the Faith Movement. Nobody ever serves
up poison straight – they hide it in a large juicy steak. There’s a
lot of steak in the Faith teachings, but also there’s poison,
enough to kill you.
There are truths I don’t want to lose, and I thank the Lord he’s
led me to see the Bible from a positive, believing attitude.
Praise and the confession of scripture is important, and can
confound the devil’s attacks. Doubt should be banished
from our thinking, and we ought to believe that God desires
our health and wellbeing. We do have victory in Jesus Christ
over all the works of the devil, and our daily life should reflect
this attitude of victory.
Memorising scripture is very up-building, and at times of need,
to be able to recall and speak out loud the promises of God is
extremely beneficial. Faith is necessary for answered prayer
(but so is the will of God – the two go hand in hand.) Faith does
move us from an attitude of submission to the devil’s attacks
to the solid ground of belief in the goodness and power of God.
All these things are good and helpful. I am not denying any of
However, it cannot be denied that the Faith teachings go way
beyond these biblical basics (all of which we could learn from
the Bible itself without having to subscribe to a Faith Ministry.)
When we look at the aberrations taught by people like Copeland,
Hinn, John Avanzini, Hagin, Jerry Savelle and others, and their
acceptance of the Toronto Movement, we can see they are not
just teaching pure faith in the Bible. They are promoting a
system of belief and doctrine that is cult-like and deceptive,
and one that leads believers into bondage rather than freedom.
Teachings like Jesus-Died-Spiritually, prosperity teaching,
faith in your faith, ye are gods, faith is a force, and the coming
glory that will transform us into an army that will take the
nations by storm – all this is way beyond biblical teaching
and must be rejected.
I learned as I studied the origins of the Movement, about a
teaching called “New Thought” that led to Christian Science,
and then fed into the Faith Movement through E.W. Kenyon.
I looked up New Thought in the library and was astounded
to see how similar it was to modern-day Faith teachings!
I checked out the Kenyon books and confirmed for myself
what others had pointed out – that Kenneth Hagin copied
word-for-word up to 75 percent of Kenyon’s book and
published it under his own name! In other words, he ripped
off Kenyon’s book and claimed to have written it himself!
But all these things have been covered in other articles and
books, some of which I have placed on this website for you
to check out for yourselves. So I will not cover that ground
here, but simply end my testimony with an admonition:
do not eat all that you are served, nor believe all you are told!
There are those who will ensnare your soul with lies, so you
need to open your eyes to the biblical truths and seek God for
freedom from the Faith teachings. You will not lose the genuine
teaching of scripture, but you WILL be set free from the
distortions of the Faith Movement.