The Word of Faith Movement – PT Barnum Was Right!

P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” What Barnum meant was there is a certain number of people in this world who will give away their hard earned money if the illusion is good enough.  Time has proven the illusion doesn’t have to be that good to get rich.  I believe if P.T. Barnum were around today he would add a fourth ring to his three-ring-circus and call it the amazing Word of Faith circus of faith healing. It wouldn’t take long for Barnum to figure out there was no need for elephants and bearded women because selling a false promise is far more profitable than feeding and training  elephants.

There are four heretical errors within Word of Faith theology and its teachings. The first one is Word of Faith theology denies the sovereignty of God and places God under the authority of the wishes of God’s own creation, humanity. The belief within the Word of Faith movement is God lost His authority over his creation when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden. The authority over creation then fell to Satan who controls the world. Finding Himself in this predicament, God then turned to Abraham and made a deal with him which is known in Christendom as the Abrahamic Covenant. It was this covenant with Abraham that, according to Kenneth Copeland, one of Word of Faith’s top producers, is the authority that obligates God to do what we speak. Copeland, once said in a sermon,

“I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible actually is…The biggest one in the whole Bible is God…I mean, He lost His top-ranking, most anointed angel; the first man He ever created; the first woman He ever created; the whole earth and all the fullness therein; a third of the angels, at least – that’s a big loss, man….Now, the reason you don’t think of God as a failure is He never said He’s a failure. And you’re not a failure till you say you’re one.”

In his book, Laws of Prosperity, Copeland wrote,

“You can have what you say! In fact, what you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying. It will change what you have…Discipline your vocabulary. Discipline everything you do, everything you say, and everything you think to agree with what God does, what God says, and what God thinks. God will be obligated to meet your needs because of His Word….If you stand firmly on this, your needs will be met.”

The idea that God is subject to man’s corrupted wishes is nothing less than heretical. Any religion that brings God down to our level or raises us up to His level is a false doctrine. Paul writes in Romans,

I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth. So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden. You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

Clearly, God is not the subject of man’s will but just the opposite is true. Man is subject to God’s will and God’s sovereignty. It is the height of arrogance to believe God has somehow lost His son, His creation and His power only to be the servant of mankind.

The second false basis of Word of Faith theology is the notion that humans are somehow “little gods.” The idea that men are little gods is based on two scriptures. The first is Psalm 82:6,

I said, “You are gods;
you are all sons of the Most High.
7 However, you will die like men
and fall like any other ruler.

Typical of Word of Faith teachers,  doctrines are declared from what scholars call proof textsProof texting is establishing doctrine based on a single verse without interpreting the context of the verse or aligning it with established doctrine in the Word. The word gods is translated from the word elohim which can and does mean gods in other texts in the Bible. However, like almost all other words in Hebrew and English there are multiple meanings and like all other words in Hebrew and English the proper meaning must be applied. The word elohim also means mighty ones or judges.  This Psalm is one in a series of Psalms written as pleas to God to relieve Israel from the persecution of foreign powers like the Assyrians, the Persians and the Babylonians (notice the Psalmist doesn’t tell God what to do). The gods in verse six refer to the rulers of these nations as mighty ones.  This also makes sense since these rulers often proclaimed themselves as gods.   Ironically, the writer of this Psalm is saying exactly the opposite of Word of Faith doctrine.  He is saying to the rulers who are persecuting Israel, “You need to keep in mind you may be mighty ones but you are still a creation of God and you will die like mere men.”  The gods in this verse  does not refer to mankind as little gods or infer that humans are at the same level as God.

Word of Faith teachers also rely on Genesis 1:27 as their basis for the doctrine that humans are somehow little gods,

So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

Again, the practice of proof texting gives rise to false doctrine.  The Bible is clear about the characteristics of God.  God is perfect.  God is omniscient.  God is sovereign.  God is omnipresent.  Humans are none of these.  The image of God as it relates to humanity in creation is the characteristic humans have that is not shared by any other creature in creation: freedom of choice in the presence of good and evil.  That is, to do God’s will by volition not by instinct or coercion.  God wants those willing to be like His son, Jesus Christ and abide in Him.  The idea that humans are gods is heretical because it violates the genuine word of God:

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.Isaiah 64:6

No one is ferocious enough to rouse Leviathan;
who then can stand against Me?
Who confronted Me, that I should repay him?
Everything under heaven belongs to Me. Job 41:10-11

The third false doctrine of the Word of Faith movement is the notion that humans have control over their own disease.  This is particularly disturbing considering many of those teachers who have preached this over the years and have profited immensely from those who believed them have died of the very diseases they proclaimed to have defeated.  For instance, Kenneth Hagin was admitted to the hospital for heart problems and died several days later.  Hagin proclaimed to have been healed forever at age seventeen from a heart condition but it has come to be known he was treated several times over his ministry for heart complications.  Oral Roberts, another faith healer who taught the health and wealth doctrine, died of pneumonia.  E.W. Kenyon, often called the father of the Word of Faith movement, died in a coma resulting from cancer.

The basis for this doctrine is the proof text passage,

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

The healing referred to does not mean physical healing as taught by Word of Faith teachers and as usual these teachers fail to study the 1 Peter explanation of this verse,

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:  “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;

 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.  1 peter 2: 21-24

Peter centers this passage on the healing of the soul, not the body.  In fact, nowhere does Peter even vaguely suggest Christ died to heal disease.  Christ’s healing gift to us was spiritual, not physical.  Christ, by His death, healed us from all the corruption of the soul to righteousness.    Granted, disease is not God’s will for us.  But to reduce the suffering of Christ on the cross to physical healing is an affront the salvific act of Christ on the cross.  Does God heal?  Of course he does.  Does He heal on demand because we say so?  No.

The fourth doctrine of the Word of Faith movement is it contradicts Scripture by centering its teachings on the physical (flesh) rather than the spiritual.  Name it and claim it, health and wealth are all slogans attributed to the Word of Faith movement.  No Word of Faith teacher ever shies away from telling their followers how much money or how nice of a house they can have if they just believe hard enough combined with planting a seed faith offering – always to the ministry of the Word of Faith teacher.  The idea of positive confession, as if our words are powerful enough to make things happen out of thin air despite the will of God, is preposterous and contradicts Scripture.  Can a positive attitude change the pattern of life?  Of course it can.  Can the universe produce a new white Cadillac into being if I speak it?  No. Nor has it ever happened.  The fact is, people have followed this doctrine and claimed it has worked by producing the white Cadillac only to have their credit ruined and the car repossessed because they believed in the teachings of the Word of Faith movement.
The emphasis on acquiring physical wealth in theology is as old as snake oil. But the Bible, if the followers of Word of Faith doctrine would read it for themselves, is clear,

In order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:4-5

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

The idea God is somehow under the authority of man or that man is somehow a god is contrary to everything established in orthodox Christianity.  A true scholar of the Christian theology knows how Christians in history have suffered and died protecting the truth and how ancient scholars have convened in the presence of the Holy Spirit to rightly divide the word of God and preserve it for those came after them.  Throughout history heretical teachings have popped up and faded but true Christian truths have prevailed through time.  All of these aspects of the Word of Faith movement have been dealt with in Christian apostolic history many times before and all of them have been found to be heretical.  The truth about God, Christian principles and theological truths have survived the test of time and will be around long after the Word of Faith movement has died like so many other false doctrines before it.  My heart is broken for those who fail to seek the truth on their own and follow the P.T. Barnums of the Word of Faith movement.  Be it known, Word of Faith theology is not Christianity nor will it ever be. The truth is clear,

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep…
These people are springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them.
For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them. For if, having escaped the world’s impurity through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in these things and defeated, the last state is worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, “a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud. 2 Peter 2:1-3, 17-22

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Hank Johnson’s Wake Up Call To America

Sometimes I sit back in my favorite chair on the deck, look out at this wonderful creation and think how great God is. Then I think about guys like Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia and wonder what God was thinking when he set the parameters of stupidity when he created mankind. Early last year the Hankster was addressing Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, in an Armed Services Committee hearing about continued funding for the tiny island of Guam.

During his rambling diatribe Rep. Johnson actually asked the admiral if too many soldiers on the island might make the island top heavy and cause it to capsize.  For those in Hanks district that means to turn upside down in the water.  In perfect form the top sailor responded, “We don’t anticipate that.”

 

Really?  Hank thinks an island can capsize?  On the surface we can all laugh at how a United States Congressman sitting on the prestigious Armed Services Committee is so incompetent that he actually believes islands float.  Some of us might even have some fun with Hank by suggesting we can save on the defense budget by simply installing engines and rudders on small islands like Guam, Tortola and Aruba instead of spending billions on new warships.  After all, if they float they can move.  Right Hank? Hank might even draw up legislation to commission the Canary Islands as the new North Atlantic Fleet.  With a couple of beers and some old college buddies I could go on for hours at the expense of Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia.

I begin to get scared when I come to the realization that Rep. Hank Johnson was elected to Congress by the majority of voters in his district.  This means enough people liked ol’ Hank and thought he would make a pretty good representative for them.  We can giggle at an individual’s ignorance and have a few belly laughs at an ill-bred remark like Hank’s suggestion that Guam could possibly capsize.  But when we consider the fact that entire towns, counties and regions in Hank’s Georgia district don’t understand why we are laughing at him,  suddenly the belly laughs fade and we begin to consider the bone chilling reality that there may be millions of people who believe islands are natural barges filled with dirt.  Then, I really get scared when I begin to think of some of the other statements made by America’s leaders.   I start to wonder if Obama really thinks we have 57 states or if Joe Biden really thinks the word “jobs” has three letters?   Or, did Bush actually believe he could abandon free market principles in order to save the free market? I can’t help but make a judgment about the intelligence capacity of the people we put in office.  These are the people at the helm of the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons!

How can people so incompetent get elected to high office?  Too many people have mindlessly attached themselves to a personality or a social agenda without giving it any responsible thought. They give their money to someone who tells them the polar bears are dying without checking the facts.  They buy expensive, inefficient electric cars because Al Gore wants them limited to a fraction of the carbon footprint he produces with his polluting jets and mansions.  They believe Nancy Pelosi when she says new higher taxes together with greater unemployment benefits are just what the country needs to solve the unemployment crisis – and she is taken seriously.  The great reward of a strong democratic republic is the freedom and economic success it is capable of, but the great tragedy of a democratic republic is the same people who can produce success can also continue to elect morons who fear Guam might capsize if too many people live on it.

It seems like the only things Americans really feel are important are their stuff, reality TV and broadcast sports.  Life  got so good in America we learned to abdicate critical thinking to Rush Limbaugh on the right and Colbert on the left.  We parrot what they say instead of manufacturing a single independent thought our own.  As a result ol’ Hank found his way to Congress.  It is time to return to the practice of questioning everything again. Even Christ told the Bereans to verify what he told them with the scriptures. If it is good enough for Christ, heck, it should be good enough for us.  An election is coming in a year, folks.  Wake up America and smell the floating islands before one capsizes right on top of you.

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