|What Is the Word of Faith Movement?|
The Word of Faith (WF) movement emerged within Charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity in the latter 20th century. The Word of Faith movement as a whole has no formal organization or authoritarian hierarchy, though the movement does have a number of high-profile teachers who heavily influence Word of Faith theology. It's basic theology is a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism.
Kenneth Hagin is often referred to as the "father" of the Word of Faith movement, but in reality it was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) who laid the foundations. It was Quimby's metaphysical teachings that influenced E.W. Kenyon, and it was E.W. Kenyon's teachings that in turn influenced Kenneth Hagin. Most prominent Word of Faith teachers today draw their inspiration from Kenneth Hagin.
The "force" of faith, an unbiblical view of faith, is the foundation of Word of Faith theology. Proponents believe they can use words to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health, wealth, etc.). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God's sovereign will -- God Himself being subject to the "laws" of faith.
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).
BIBLE: Faith is not a force. Faith is trusting in the promises of God. Faith is synonymous with 'being sure': "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). We exercise faith when we trust in the promises of God.