(20)An Examination of the Word-Faith Movement
by Richard J. Vincent
(A)The Word-Faith Teachers
1.The Word-Faith Teachers. This is the group that would seek
to convince us that Jesus and His disciples were rich, that to be
poor is a sin, to be sick is a sin, and that faith is a creative force
that we can use to shape our world just like God supposedly
created this world and universe that we live in through
2.Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, John Avanzini,
Robert Tilton, Fred Price, and Benny Hinn (who at the time of this
writing has authored the number one best selling Christian book
in America, [Good Morning, Holy Spirit]) are just a few that spew
out this theological vomit.
(B) A Sampling of Error
1.To name just a few of the more outrageous things that have
been said by these so-called teachers will stagger the senses:
(i)John Avanzini is convinced that [Jesus had a nice big house]
[Jesus wore designer clothes], and [Jesus was handling big
(ii)Fred Price also claims that Jesus was rich and that He left
us with an example to follow. That is why Fred drives a Rolls
Royce; he is following Jesus’ example!
(iii)Mr. Price also communicates one of the more sickening
beliefs of the Word-Faith teachers which shocks even those
with a mild amount of common sense. He says, [How can you
glorify God in your body, when it doesn’t function right? What
makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside of a body
where He can’t see out through the windows, and He can’t
hear out the ears?] This insulting and insensitive comment
regarding the handicapped and crippled among us stirs up
anger in even the most hardened of consciences. Yet this
statement by Mr. Price is followed by exuberant applause
and approval from his congregation.
2.These kind of statements boggle our minds and stagger
our senses. It would seem that most people would see the
error in these teachings, yet millions follow these men with
a militant passion.
(C)The Tip of the Iceberg
1.If this was as far as the teaching of these men went, if their
only error was that they think everyone should be wealthy and
healthy, then we could maybe shrug this movement off as a
novelty and realize that soon people with an ounce of common
sense will see the error in these teachings.
2.Unfortunately, these teachings are but the tip of the iceberg.
They are but the rotten fruit of a foul, putrid, blasphemous and
heretical root. The erroneous actions of the faith teachers is but
the symptom of their twisted and diseased teachings concerning
the nature of man and the nature of God. I think you will see,
after examining what they believe in these two key areas, that we
are not dealing with a Christian sect gone awry, but that we are
dealing with a non-Christian heretical group that is as deadly
in their doctrine as any major cult.
(D)The Error Begins
1.Who is God to the faith teachers? Kenneth Copeland will tell
you first off that [God is the biggest failure in the Bible…the
reason you’ve never thought that is because He never said
He was one].
2.Copeland also teaches us that [God is a being that stands
somewhere around 6’2″, 6’3″ intimating that God has a body,
an error subscribed to by the Mormons.
3.Copeland states, without any biblical warrant, that the earth
we live on is a [copy of the mother planet] which God lives on,
again imitating a Mormon doctrine.
4.Never mind that the Bible plainly states that God is spirit
(John 4:24), never mind that the Bible never says a thing about
this earth being a copy of any so-called mother planet. Yet these
arguments don’t work with the faith teachers because they
have supposedly received these teachings by direct
revelation from God. Therefore to oppose them is to
oppose God. These men have lifted themselves above any
critical investigation yet they have forgotten the biblical
mandate that anything not in accord with the Word
of God must be rejected. We will examine shortly their
reactions to any kind of criticism.
5.After the faith teachers have thoroughly belittled God to
slightly more than an exalted man, they then proceed to exalt
man to the status of God. Adam, to the faith teachers, was an
exact duplicate of God. Copeland teaches, [Gods reason for
creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean
a reproduction of Himself. He [Adam] was not a little like God,
he was not almost like God, He was not subordinate to God even].
6.Copeland even states that [Adam is God manifested in the flesh],
a title that can only be truly applied to Christ Jesus alone. The
perceptive man can easily see that the problem here is a
confusion about what it means to be made in the image of God.
The faith teachers claim that being made in the image of God
is synonymous to having the nature of God. To be made in the
image of God is to be a [little god] they would admit. Yet is that
what the church has commonly taught. The overwhelming
consensus of the church has been that man is created in the
image of God in the sense that he is a person as God is a
person,possessing mind, will, and emotions, that he is
reasonable, unique among creation, a ruler over
creation, and capable of personal fellowship with God.
We bear the image of God, but we do not share His
nature or substance or make-up. We are not
omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, or infinite.
God is the only being that is holy in and of Himself (Rev. 15:4).
We are made in His image and have dignity because of that,
but we are not an exact duplicate of God in any sense of the
word. That status is reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ alone
(see Col 2:8, Heb. 1:3, 2 Cor. 4:4).
(E)The Error Grows
1.Beginning with this foul root of error, the faith teachers proceed
into more putrefying departures from the Christian faith. The faith
teachers claim that when Adam fell in the garden he forfeited the
nature of God and took on the nature of Satan. This error is but a
link in the chain that connects the faith teachers exalting of man
and belittling of God. You see, salvation for the faith
teachers is not the removal of sin through the shed
blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation for the faith
teachers is not the forgiveness of sins and the
restoring of a right relationship between God and man.
Salvation for the faith teachers is instead the removal of
the nature of Satan from man and the restoring of the
nature of God in man.
2.How is the restoring of the nature of God in man to come about?
The answer that the faith teachers give is that Jesus had to take
on the nature of Satan on the cross. In fact, the whole sacrifice
of Christ on the cross takes on a completely different emphasis
and meaning for the faith teachers.
3.You see, it is not enough that Christ died physically in the
theology of the Word-Faith teachers. In order to take away
our Satanic nature and restore our God nature, Jesus Christ
had to die spiritually as well as physically. He then had to
descend to hell. Then while in hell he was born again and
through His act of being born again He conquered the devil.
(F)The Error Examined
1.You must follow the steps of this error very carefully for it is
but the doorway into the single most blasphemous and
heretical teaching of the Word-Faith teachers.
2.On the cross Jesus took upon Himself the nature of Satan.
The Bible says that Jesus is God the Son, God manifest in the
flesh. Jesus therefore possesses the attributes of deity such
as omnipotence, omniscience, eternalness, immutability, etc.
Though in His incarnation, He chose not to exercise all of His
attributes, He still retained them. One of God’s attributes which
Jesus shares is His immutability. This means that God is
unchangeable in His person. Although He acts in time, and
establishes and changes relationships in time, His essence, which
includes His perfect and holy attributes, never changes. God
does not change (Mal. 3:6) and neither does Jesus. [Jesus
Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever] (Heb 13:8).
But the faith-teachers begin their error by claiming
that the Holy, undefiled, unchangeable Son of God
became evil to the core taking upon Himself the
nature of Satan. Blasphemy! Our holy God does not
3.Jesus died spiritually. Again the unchanging God-man
did not die spiritually, but physically.
(i)1 Pet. 3:18 states that Jesus was put to death in the flesh
but made alive in the Spirit.
(ii)Jesus did not need to die spiritually as well as physically
to gain our salvation. The offering of His body was enough.
(iii)Colossians 1:13 states [He has now reconciled you in His
fleshly body through death].
(iv)Hebrews 13:12 states [therefore Jesus also, that He might
sanctify the people through His own blood].
(v)Hebrews 10:10 states [We have been sanctified through
the offering of the body of Jesus Christ].
(vi)Was Jesus lying when He cried upon the cross [It is finished]
(John 19:30)? Was there yet more to be done to secure our
salvation? That comforting cry from the lips of our blessed
Lord can be nothing but true and our salvation was completely
bought and paid for at this most climactic moment of all of
4.Jesus descended into hell a mortal man. Seeing that there is
no need for Christ to have done any more to procure our
salvation then what had already been accomplished, this point
becomes nothing more than an embellishment to the truth.
Jesus Christ did not suffer in hell. He descended to Hades,
to the abode of the dead. There was no need for Him to do
anymore for our salvation. Satan had already been defeated
and conquered (Col 2:14-15). Also, Jesus was not, nor ever
will be, a mere mortal human being. To be a mere mortal,
He would have to stop being God, and that is one thing
that is against God’s nature and attributes.
5.Jesus was born again. Jesus had no need to be born again.
Jesus was not a lost and hell-bound sinner who needed
regeneration. He was the Almighty, Eternal, and Holy Son
of God. The faith teachers will drag Jesus to the lowest
depths in order that their teaching will have at least a hint
of logic. This idea that Jesus was born again is the crucial
link for the faith teachers that enables them to cry out at
the end of their wicked formula for salvation,
[I am a little god].
6.Jesus defeated the devil by being born again. We now have
Jesus, a mere mortal man, suffering in hell. Jesus then decides
to be born again. He defeats the devil and becomes the
first-born among many brethren. Now here is where the
Scripture twisting really becomes ludicrous.
(i)Copeland states that nowhere in the Bible after the book of
Acts is Jesus called the unique and only begotten Son of God.
(ii)He then twists Romans 8:29 to mean that Jesus is the first
born again man. This first reborn man, Jesus, has set the
pattern for a new race to come.
(iii)And according to the Faith Teachers, we are that new race
to come. We are equal to Jesus for we are born again just as
He was. Do you see what has happened here? The faith teachers
have so suppressed the deity of Jesus that they have, in essence,
(iv)Copeland goes the farthest in this revelation He supposedly
received from Jesus, [Don’t be disturbed when people accuse
you of thinking you’re God. The more you get to be like Me,
the more they’re going to think that way of you. They crucified
Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God;
I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me.
Hallelujah. That’s what you’re doing].
(v)The Jesus of the faith teachers has so little in common with
the Jesus of the Bible that it is clear to anyone with a grain of
discernment that the Jesus of the faith teachers is not the
Jesus of the Bible but instead is the kind of religious decoy
that Paul warned us to be on the lookout for. [But I am afraid,
lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds
should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion
to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom
we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which
you have not received, or a different gospel which you have
not accepted, you put up with it easily enough] (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
And we are putting up with it. We are taking this so
calmly. Another Jesus, another gospel, another spirit
is mocking the true Jesus, the true gospel, and the true
Spirit and we are so tolerant of it that we allow it on our
TV set and call it Christian!?
(G)The Fruit Of The Error
1.Why is it so important for the Faith-Teachers to ignore such
explicit passages as [It is finished], etc? Why must they have
Jesus dying spiritually as well as physically, entering hell as a
mortal man capable of failure, and being born again to defeat
the devil? The reason is that the faith teachers have a diminished
view of Jesus.
2.When Jesus is downplayed as nothing more than an anointed
man, it brings the faith teachers up to the level of Jesus. In fact,
both Kenneth Copeland and Fred Price have publicly stated
that if it was just the physical death of Jesus on the cross that
saves us then anyone could have done it. Kenneth Copeland
says, [And the whole New Testament calls Him the first-born….
The word [born] began to ring in my spirit; it just began to roll
around: born, born. I never had let Him go through that in my
own thinking….And while I was laying there thinking about
these things, the Spirit of God spoke to me. And He said,
[Son, realize this: Now follow Me in this, don’t let your tradition
trip you up]. He said, [Think this way: A twice-born man
whipped Satan in his own domain].And I threw my Bible down.
I said,[What?]He said, [A born-again man defeated Satan.
The first-born of many brethren defeated him]. He said, [You
are the very image and the very copy of that one].I said,
[Goodness gracious, sakes alive!] And I began to see what
had gone on in there, and I said, [You don’t mean–you
couldn’t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?]
He said, [Oh, yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of
God that He did, you could have done the same thing, ’cause
you’re a reborn man, too].
3.No mention is made of the sinlessness of Christ. No reverence
is shown toward the unique virgin birth of Christ. See the depths
to which the Word-Faith teachers have desecrated our Lord.
Jesus Christ could pay for our sins because He was sinless,
being uniquely born of a virgin, and thus not sharing in the sin
nature of Adam and his descendants, a fact to which neither
Copeland nor anyone can likewise boast of.
4.The sickening outcome of this wickedness is that the Gospel
message is no more [Turn to the cross of Jesus, ye wretched
sinners, and plead for God’s forgiveness. Find rest for your sin
and guilt beneath the blessed cross of the great and mighty
Savior]. Instead the faith Teacher’s gospel message is, [You
shall be like God! ]The original lie of the devil is now the
gospel message and is broadcast around the world for all to
hear! He must be pleased! And the end result is the
blasphemous cries of those who subscribe to this wickedness.
(i)Kenneth Hagin:[You are as much the incarnation of God as
Jesus Christ was…the believer is as much an incarnation as
was Jesus of Nazareth].
(ii)Benny Hinn: [Are you ready for some real revelation
knowledge….you are god].[You are a little god on earth
(iii)Kenneth Copeland: [I say this with all respect so that it don’t
upset you too bad, but I say it anyway, when I read in the Bible
where he [Jesus] says, [I Am,’ I just smile and say].Yes, I Am,
too!] [You don’t have a god in you, you are one].
(iv)Paul Crouch: [Do you know what else that’s settled then
tonight? This hue and cry and controversy that has been
spawned by the devil to try to bring dissension within the
body of Christ that we are gods. I am a little god. I have His
name. I am one with Him. I’m in covenant relation.
I am a little god. Critics be gone!]
(H)A Time For Action
1.Am I just theologically splitting hairs here? If this were a matter
of when and how to baptize, or how many times a year should
the Lord’s Supper be observed, or whether the rapture was post,
mid, or pre-trib, then I could rightfully be accused of that.
2.Yet this is not a minor issue. At stake here is the very character
of our God and Savior Jesus Christ and the great salvation that
He has given us. If you have the wrong Jesus, you have the wrong
salvation and it should be clear from the evidence presented
above that the Jesus of the Word-Faith movement is a far cry
from the Jesus of the Bible!
3.When Shirley MacClaine chants over and over on national TV ,
[I am God, I am God!] we evangelicals go into an uproar.
Yet when those who claim to be in our own ranks say,
[I am a little god], we don’t even flinch, but rather applaud
them and their supposed evangelical efforts.
4.Michael Horton has rightly written, [It must cause our
heavenly Father much grief that we would consider unity
more important than the One in whom we are united. It must
quench the Spirit to see Christians treating blasphemies,
heresies, and scandalous statements as though they were
no more than odd [emphases].
5.The simple fact is that it is not the ones that are zealous for
sound doctrine and orthodoxy who are the divisive ones.
The Word-Faith teachers are the ones who are guilty of being
divisive. They are fully aware that what they are teaching is
relatively new. They constantly ask us to put away our traditions
and forget our creeds. Benny Hinn says to an audience, [Are you
ready for some real revelation knowledge?]then proceeds to
inform them [you are god].Hinn also, after teaching his audience
that God consists of nine distinct substances, boasts [You think
you’re in this church to hear things you’ve heard for the last
6.The Word-Faith teachers expect everyone to accept their
authority and teachings without criticism or testing. Whenever
anyone challenges their teachings they promote division
instead of discussion. Before his death, Dr. Walter Martin
sought to dialogue with Kenneth Copeland over his
teachings, yet Copeland refused to meet with Martin.
Fred Price has publicly stated that he will not meet with
a critic unless he has as many followers as him. Last Spring,
the Christian Research Institute, a very reputable and
trustworthy counter-cult and apologetic ministry,
devoted a week of radio programs to exposing the errors
of the Word-Faith movement. Immediately after the
shows were aired, Paul Crouch had this to say about
CRI during his televised [Praise-a-thon] program amid
shouts of [amen] and [you tell ’em brother] from the studio
audience: [I think God’s given up on a lot of that old rotten
Sanhedrin religious crowd, twice dead, plucked up by the
roots. I think they’re damned and on their way to hell and
I don’t think there’s any redemption for them…the heresy
hunters that want to find a little mote of illegal doctrine
in some Christian’s eye and pluck that little mote out of
their eye when they’ve got the whole forest in their own
lives and in their own eyes. I say to hell with you!
Oh hallelujah. Get out of God’s way, quit blocking God’s
bridges or God’s gonna shoot you if I don’t! I refuse to
argue any longer with any of you out there. Don’t even
call me. If you want to argue doctrine, if you want to
straighten out somebody over here, if you want to
criticize Ken Copeland for his preaching on faith,
or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life! I don’t even want to
talk to you or hear you. I don’t want to see your ugly
face! Get out of my face in Jesus’ name].
7.Notice that there is no desire to dialogue about the issues.
Notice that Paul Crouch doesn’t explain why they believe
what they believe and subsequently why CRI was in error
for presenting the programs. All that Paul does is attack
the people, he does not give an account for the hope
that is in him. The Faith teachers erroneous and
blasphemous teachings are what are promoting
division. It is not those who criticize them and seek
to dialogue with them in a reasonable matter
that are to blame. It is the childish and unresponsive
Word-Faith teachers that are to blame.
8.But you say, what about the good they do? Dear friend,
no one gets everything wrong! Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses,
the Mormons, the New Age, etc. get a few things right every
once in while. But isn’t that the substance of deception?
9.The skin of the truth stuffed with a lie. An appearance
of righteousness yet inside rottenness and dead man’s bones.
No, the evil propagated by these teachers so outweighs the
good that we must reject them entirely. A little leaven
leavens the whole lump.
10.I, for one, am embarrassed by the Word-Faith teachers
and I am ashamed to be represented by them. These men
represent Christianity to millions. They present a false
picture of what it means to be a Christian and I think
it is abhorrent. Michael Horton has rightly asked,
[Do those who occasionally view televangelistic
programming know that evangelical Christianity
offers an intelligent interpretation of and hope for
human existence? Does the average unbeliever come
away from an ordinary telecast with a better grasp of the
substance of the Christian faith?]
11. The Word-Faith teachers and Trinity Broadcasting Network
on the whole defeat their very purpose. They seek to evangelize
but they are only preaching to the choir. The vast majority
of people who watch already claim to be Christian, and the
occasional non-believer that tunes in is quick to see the
unreality presented and the apparent con-game that is going on.
And to make matters worse, the sparse amount of teaching
that is usually presented to the Christian is of the lethal type
that we have been discussing and instead of strengthening
the body of Christ, it poisons it.
1.Stated most simply, the error of the faith movement
is that they exalt man and decrease God. They exalt
man to God status and reduce God to man’s status.
They are aware that what they are teaching is unorthodox
and controversial to say the least, yet they have no wish to
change their tune. They refuse to be accountable to anyone.
2.No man is an island unto himself. These men who are
spokesmen for the Christian faith to the public and represent
the Lord Jesus to millions through their television programs
are preaching a different Jesus, a different gospel,
and a different spirit than what is revealed to us in
3.The Apostle Paul has some strong words for these men
and with them I close. I pray we will take them to heart and
that the Spirit that so moved Paul to action against false
teachings will move within us to produce in us a holy zeal for
4.[I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who
called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
which is really not another; only there are some who are
disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach
to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to
you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I
say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel
contrary to that which you received, let him be
accursed] (Gal. 1:6-9).
Written by Richard J. Vincent, 1109 Bitteroot Court,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46234. I can also be contacted
on Prodigy KDCB44A or by phone 317-271-0864.
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