Word of Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical. It is not a denomination and does not have a formal organization or hierarchy. Instead, it is a movement that is heavily influenced by a number of high-profile pastors and teachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Fred Price.
The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.
At the heart of the Word of Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will and that God Himself is subject to these laws. This is nothing short of idolatry, turning our faith—and by extension ourselves—into god.
From here, its theology just strays further and further from Scripture: it claims that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as little gods. Before the fall, humans had the potential to call things into existence by using the faith-force. After the fall, humans took on Satan’s nature and lost the ability to call things into existence. In order to correct this situation, Jesus Christ gave up His divinity and became a man, died spiritually, took Satan’s nature upon Himself, went to hell, was born again, and rose from the dead with God’s nature. After this, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to replicate the Incarnation in believers so they could become little gods as God had originally intended.
Following the natural progression of these teachings, as little gods we again have the ability to manipulate the faith-force and become prosperous in all areas of life. Illness, sin, and failure are the result of a lack of faith, and are remedied by confession—claiming God’s promises for oneself into existence. Simply put, the Word of Faith movement exalts man to god-status and reduces God to man-status. Needless to say, this is a false representation of what Christianity is all about. Obviously, Word of Faith teaching does not take into account what is found in Scripture. Personal revelation, not Scripture, is highly relied upon in order to come up with such absurd beliefs, which is just one more proof of its heretical nature.
Countering Word of Faith teaching is a simple matter of reading the Bible. God alone is the Sovereign Creator of the Universe (Genesis 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:15) and does not need faith—He is the object of faith (Mark 11:22; Hebrews 11:3). God is spirit and does not have a physical body (John 4:24). Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27; 9:6), but this does not make him a little god or divine. Only God has a divine nature (Galatians 4:8; Isaiah 1:6-11, 43:10, 44:6; Ezekiel 28:2; Psalm 8:6-8). Christ is Eternal, the Only Begotten Son, and the only incarnation of God (John 1:1, 2, 14, 15, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:1). In Him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). By becoming a man, Jesus gave up the glory of heaven but not His divinity (Philippians 2:6-7), though He did choose to withhold His power while walking the earth as man.
The Word of Faith movement is deceiving countless people, causing them to grasp after a way of life and faith that is not biblical. At its core is the same lie Satan has been telling since the Garden: “You shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5). Sadly, those who buy into the Word of Faith movement are still listening to him. Our hope is in the Lord, not in our own words, not even in our own faith (Psalm 33:20-22). Our faith comes from God in the first place (Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 12:2) and is not something we create for ourselves. So, be wary of the Word of Faith movement and any church that aligns itself with Word of Faith teachings.
Doctrines considered essential by historic Christianity are not necessarily considered essentials in Word of Faith theology. Word of Faith teachers often redefine or reinterpret Christian essentials in order to fit them into their own peculiar theological systems. These reinterpretations are often derived from “revelation knowledge” (i.e. special revelations supposedly from God, given specifically to the WF teacher). Placing “revelation knowledge” above Scripture is one reason why WF teachers often blatantly contradict Scripture (and often each other). For example, one WF teacher, when speaking of God said, there are nine of them; and yet another WF teacher, when speaking of Jesus said, I (Jesus) never claimed to be God.
Word of Faith teachers are notorious for teaching everything from the heretical to the downright ridiculous. For example, one WF teacher (who recently renounced WF) once stated that Adam could fly, and women were originally designed to give birth from their sides. Many sincere Christians within the WF movement are unaware that their favorite teachers are teaching doctrines that flatly contradict the Word of God. One reason for this lack of discernment is that followers are told that questioning the teacher is synonymous with “touching God’s anointed,” or “quenching the Spirit.” They are unaware that Scripture encourages us to test all teaching by the written Word of God.
The Word of Faith movement is a serious threat to the Church — this because WF is assaulting Christianity from within the Church. What follows is a comparison of Word of Faith theology, as espoused by many of these prominent teachers, with the teachings of historic Christianity. Since this pamphlet represents a cross-section of Word of Faith teachings, Word of Faith adherents will believe some, but not necessarily all of these unbiblical doctrines.
WF: God is not sovereign. God needs permission to act. “Satan had gained ascendancy in the earth by gaining Adam’s authority, and God was left on the outside. God couldn’t come here in His divine power and wipe them out. He had to move in an area where it would be ruled legal by the Supreme Court of the Universe” (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, p. 51).
BIBLE: God is sovereign over all creation. Man does not control God. “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).
WF: You control Jesus with your mouth. “You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth….He is bound by your lips and by your words … Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence” (Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Vol. I, p.83).
BIBLE: Christ is sovereign over all creation. Man does not control Christ. “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation….You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:14, 17).
WF: Word of Faith theology has completely rewritten and redefined the atonement. In WF, Jesus suffered and died on the cross, descended into hell (supposedly the seat of Satan’s government), spent three days serving a sentence in hell (where He was tortured by demons), was then born again and released from hell on a technicality.
When Jesus was in the pit of hell, in that terrible torment, no doubt the Devil and his emissaries gathered around to see the annihilation of God’s Son. But in the corridors of hell, there came a great voice from heaven: “Turn Him loose! He’s there illegally!” And all of hell became paralyzed. (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, p. 143, emphasis in original)
Jesus was born again before his eyes! (Ibid, p. 189, emphasis in original)
BIBLE: Jesus was not “born again.” He could not be born again since He did not have a sinful nature. The sacrifice had to be perfect — Christ alone had no sin nature. “(B)ut with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:19-20).
Christ did not descend into hell. He descended into Hades (Sheol) and preached to the Old Testament saints in paradise. “The he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise'” (Luke 23:42-43).
Hell (Gehenna) is not the seat of Satan’s government. Hell is currently unoccupied. Hell is a place of punishment and torment where Satan, demons, and the unregenerate will eventually be cast. Christ did not serve a sentence in hell; He atoned for our sins on the cross. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished (tetelestai).’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).
WF: Man is a god, though a lesser god than God the creator. “Adam was an exact duplication of God’s kind!….Adam was subordinate to God. God created him, gave him all this authority and power, and said to him, ‘Be god over the earth as I am God over the heavens'” (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, pp. 16-17).
BIBLE: Man is not, nor ever will be, a god. There is only one true God (John 17:3); if man is a god then man has to be a false god. “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me” (Isaiah 43:10).
WF: Faith is a force. “Faith is a power force. It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force” (Copeland, The Force of Faith, p.13).
Words activate the force. “The force of faith is released by words. Faith-filled words put the law of the Spirit of life into operation” (Ibid. p. 18).
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