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Promise Keepers, Kenneth Hagan and Freemasonry

Promise Keepers has taken pagan worship one step further. The first exposure of P.K. that I read documented that fact that the Promise Keepers distributed a book filled with sexual imagery of a very perverted sort. This article revolves around the pagan worship of the phallus (male reproductive organ). The story starts in July 1997 when the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry in it’s official publication called ‘The Scottish Rite Journal’ made a call to raise funds to restore the Masonic obelisk in Washington D.C. and also placed it on the cover of the magazine. This vile structure has been worshipped by pagans for centuries and it represents the phallus which is also associated with sun and serpent worship. It was designed by Freemasons, named after a Freemason and the cornerstone laid in Masonic ritual. Therefore it is a sexual, pagan, satanic, Masonic idol that Christians should identify and avoid. But these facts have been ignored and Christians are being deceived about the nature of this idol. Kenneth Hagan followed the Masonic lodge by placing the obelisk on his magazine cover the very next month! I do not believe that this is a coincidence and that a man such as Hagan who is well over 50 years older then me (he just turned 80) and was in Ministry well before I was even born and who has established International Bible colleges would be ignorant of the true nature of the obelisk.

obelisk
This is a photo taken from the ‘Scottish Rite Journal’ published by the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry. 

 

 

The very next month in July 1997, Kenneth Hagan followed after the Mason’s example by placing the Masonic obelisk on the cover of his magazine. The article about the obelisk in the Masonic magazine mentioned that at the Grand Masters Conference held in Tulsa, Oklahoma (the headquarters for both 33rd degree Freemasons Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagan) a call was made to Grand Lodges to raise money to restore the world’s tallest masonry structure. Were Hagan and Roberts present at this meeting? Anyone willing to come forward? Another significant clue is the key word ‘illuminate’ used by the Word of Faith magazine to describe the cover. The Illuminati has been associated with the obelisk a long time before. See the image below, published in 1982, for the obelisk-illuminati connection.

curse

 

wofalbertopk

 

 

Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute. Editor-in-chief, Elliot Miller. Used by permission. For more information on the Christian Research Institute, go to http://web.archive.org/web/20030212144905/http://www.equip.org/.

“Ye Are Gods?”
Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deification of Man

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

from the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1987, page 18. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.

Is the belief that men were created to be “gods,” either in this life or in some future exaltation, a Christian teaching? Is it in any sense Christian to speak of the “deification” of man – to say that God created or redeemed man in order to become deity? What do various religious groups who use such language today mean? Are they all saying the same thing? Are all who use such terminology heretics? If not, how do we tell the difference? All of these questions will be addressed in this article.

DIFFERENT IDEAS OF DEIFICATION

The first step in answering these interrelated questions is to recognize that talk about men being gods cannot be isolated from basic world views, or conceptions of the world and its relation to God. Norman Geisler and William Watkins have pointed out that there are seven basic world views: atheism (no God), polytheism (many gods), pantheism (God is all), panentheism (God is in all), finite godism (a finite god made the world), deism (a God who does not do miracles created the world), and theism, or monotheism (a God who does miracles created the world), which is the biblical view (and is held by orthodox Jews and Muslims as well as Christians).[1] Not all doctrines can be neatly categorized into one of these seven world views, since some people do hold to combinations of two views; but such positions are inherently inconsistent, and usually one world view is dominant.
            In this article our concern will be with doctrines of deification which claim to be strictly Christian. (This means that we will not discuss, for example, New Age concepts of deification.) Varieties of such “Christian” views on deification can be found among adherents of monotheism, polytheism, and panentheism.

Monotheistic Deification

It may surprise some to learn that a monotheistic doctrine of deification was taught by many of the church fathers, and is believed by many Christians today, including the entire Eastern Orthodox church. In keeping with monotheism, the Eastern orthodox do not teach that men will literally become “gods” (which would be polytheism). Rather, as did many of the church fathers,[2] they teach that men are “deified” in the sense that the Holy Spirit dwells within Christian believers and transforms them into the image of God in Christ, eventually endowing them in the resurrection with immortality and God’s perfect moral character.
            It may be objected that to classify as monotheistic any doctrine which refers to men in some positive sense as “gods” is self-contradictory; and strictly speaking such an objection is valid. Indeed, later in this study it shall be argued that such terminology is not biblical. However, the point here is that however inconsistent and confusing the language that is used (and it is inconsistent), the substance of what the Eastern Orthodox are seeking to express when they speak of deification is actually faithful to the monotheistic world view. The language used is polytheistic, and in the light of Scripture should be rejected; but the doctrine intended by this language in the context of the teachings of the fathers and of Eastern Orthodoxy is quite biblical, and is thus not actually polytheistic.
            Thus, it should not be argued that anyone who speaks of “deification” necessarily holds to a heretical view of man. Such a sweeping judgment would condemn many of the early church’s greatest theologians (e.g., Athanasius, Augustine), as well as one of the three main branches of historic orthodox Christianity in existence today. On the other hand, some doctrines of deification are most certainly heretical, because they are unbiblical in substance as well as in terminology.

Polytheistic Deification

Two examples of polytheistic doctrines of deification are the teachings of Mormonism and Armstrongism, although adherents of these religions generally do not admit to being polytheists.
            The Mormons are very explicit in their “scriptures” that there are many Gods; for example, the three persons of the Trinity are regarded as three “Gods.”[3] Since they believe that many Gods exist but at present worship only one – God the Father – at least one Mormon scholar has admitted with qualifications that their doctrine could be termed “henotheistic.”[4] Henotheism is a variety of polytheism in which there are many gods, but only one which should be worshipped. Thus, the meaning of deification in Mormonism is radically different than that of the church fathers who used similar terms, despite Mormon arguments to the contrary.[5]
            The Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong (who died early in 1986) claims to believe in only one God. However, Armstrongism defines “God” as a collective term (like “church” or “family”) referring to a family of distinct beings all having the same essential nature. Presently this “God family” consists of two members, God the Father and Christ, but it is their plan to reproduce themselves in human beings and so add millions or even billions to the God family.[6] Therefore, by the normal use of words on which our categorizations are based, Armstrong’s world view is also polytheistic.

Panentheistic Deification

An important example of a panentheistic doctrine of deification within professing Christianity is Union Life, founded by Norman Grubb, who at one time was a respected evangelical leader. In 1980 Cornerstone, an evangelical magazine, ran an article arguing that Union Life was teaching pantheism or panentheism.[7] Union Life has attempted to argue[8] that panentheism, unlike pantheism, is not heretical (despite Grubb’s admission that he does not know the definition of pantheism![9]). However, neither pantheism nor panentheism separates the creation from the essential nature of the Creator, though panentheism does posit a differentiation in which the creation is the expression of the Creator. The heretical nature of Union Life is made evident by such statements as, “there is only One Person in the universe,” “everything is God on a certain level of manifestation,” and “Nothing but God exists!”[10] Therefore, Union Life’s claim to following the tradition of the church fathers[11] is no more valid than that of the Mormons.

Positive Confession: Monotheistic or Polytheistic?

Not all views of the deification of man are easily classifiable. Perhaps the most difficult doctrine of deification to categorize into one of the seven basic world views is that of the “positive confession” or “faith” teachers, including Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick K.C. Price, Charles Capps, Casey Treat, and many others.
            In brief, the “faith” teaching maintains that God created man in “God’s class,” as “little gods,” with the potential to exercise the “God kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. We lost this opportunity by rebelling against God and receiving Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Christ became a man, died spiritually (receiving Satan’s nature), went to Hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the Incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be little gods. Since we are called to experience this kind of life now, we should experience success in everything we do, including health and financial prosperity.
            Some aspects of this teaching have been documented and compared with Scripture in articles published in previous issues of this journal.[12] Regarding the claim that men are “little gods,” there is no question (as shall be demonstrated shortly) that the language used is unbiblical, but are the ideas being conveyed contrary to Scripture as well? Specifically, is the world view of the “faith” teaching monotheistic or polytheistic?
            A simple answer to this question is somewhat elusive. The positive confession teachers have made statements that seem polytheistic, and yet often in the same paragraph contradict themselves by asserting the truth of monotheism.[13] At least two positive confession teachers, Frederick K.C. Price and Casey Treat, have admitted that men are not literally gods and have promised not to use this terminology again.[14] In many cases, the dominant world view appears to be monotheism, with their teachings tending at times toward a polytheistic world view. It seems best, then, to regard the “faith” teaching as neither soundly monotheistic nor fully polytheistic, but instead as a confused mixture of both world views.
            This means that the “faith” teaching of deification cannot be regarded as orthodox. Their concept of deification teaches that man has a “sovereign will” comparable to God’s, and that man can therefore exercise the “God kind of faith” and command things to be whatever he chooses.[15] At least one “faith” teacher, Kenneth Copeland, seems to regard God as finite, since he says, speaking of Adam, “His body and God were exactly the same size.”[16] Again, it is the context in which the doctrine appears that determines whether the teaching is orthodox or heretical. In this case, there seems to be significant evidence to show that some, at least, of the “faith” teachers have a heretical view of God, as well as a heretical view of the nature of the believer. Nevertheless, there also appears to be evidence that not all of the “faith” teachers are heretical in the same sense as, say, Mormonism or Armstrongism.
            At this point we will turn to the biblical teaching relating to this subject to see whether the Bible teaches deification at all.

THE BIBLICAL TEACHING

All of the various doctrines of deification discussed above appeal to the same passages of Scripture and the same biblical themes to validate their teaching. Besides the passages where men are called “gods” or “sons of God,” there are the biblical themes concerning men in the image of God; the close relationship between Christ and Christians; and the statement in 2 Peter 1:4 that Christians are “partakers of the divine nature.” In this article we shall discuss briefly each of these texts and themes.

Are Men Called “Gods” in Scripture?

The Bible in both Old and New Testaments explicitly and repeatedly affirms that there is only one God (e.g.,Deut. 4:35-39; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19). Therefore, the Bible most definitely rejects any sort of polytheism, including henotheism.
            The Scriptures also very clearly teach that God is an absolutely unique being who is distinct from the world as its Creator (e.g.,Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; Rom. 1:25; Heb. 11:3). This teaching rules out pantheism and panentheism, according to which the world is either identical to God or an essential aspect of God. Since He is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, God is totally unique, so that there is none even like God (e.g.,Ps. 102:25-27; Isa. 40-46; Acts 17:24-28).[17] The Bible, then, unmistakably teaches a monotheistic world view.
            In the face of so many explicit statements that there is only one God, and in light of His uniqueness, it may seem surprising that anyone would claim that the Bible teaches that men are gods. However, there are a few passages in Scripture which seem to call men “god” or “gods.” Most or all of these, however, are irrelevant to any doctrine of deification. In practice, the question of whether the Bible ever calls men “gods” in a positive sense focuses exclusively on Psalm 82:6 (“I said, ‘you are gods'”) and its citation by Jesus in John 10:34-35.
            The usual view among biblical expositors for centuries is that Psalm 82 refers to Israelite judges by virtue of their position as judges representing God; it is, therefore, a figurative usage which applies only to those judges and does not apply to men or even believers in general. If this interpretation is correct, Psalm 82:6 is also irrelevant to any doctrine of Christian deification.
            An alternative interpretation agrees that the “gods” are Israelite judges, but sees the use of the term “gods” as an ironic figure of speech. Irony is a rhetorical device in which something is said to be the case in such a way as to make the assertion seem ridiculous (compare Paul’s ironic “you have become kings” in 1 Corinthians 4:8, where Paul’s point is that they had not become kings). According to this interpretation, the parallel description of the “gods” as “sons of the Most High” (which, it is argued, is not in keeping with the Old Testament use of the term “sons” of God), the condemnation of the judges for their wicked judgment, and especially the statement, “Nevertheless, you will die as men,” all point to the conclusion that the judges are called “gods” in irony.
            If the former interpretation is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus would be understood to mean that if God called wicked judges “gods” how much more appropriate is it for Him, Jesus, to be called God, or even the Son of God. If the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82:6 is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus’ point would still be basically the same. It is also possible that Jesus was implying that the Old Testament application of the term “gods” to wicked judges was fulfilled (taking “not to be broken” to mean “not to be unfulfilled,” cf. John 7:23) in Himself as the true Judge (cf. John 5:22,27-30; 9:39).[18] Those wicked men were, then, at best called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” in a special and figurative sense; and at worst they were pseudo-gods and pseudo-sons of God. Jesus, on the other hand, is truly God (cf. John 1:1,18; 20:28; 1 John 5:20) and the unique Son of God (John 10:36; 20:31; etc.)
            Neither the representative nor the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82 allows it (or John 10:34-35) to be understood to teach that men were created or redeemed to be gods. Nor is there any other legitimate interpretation which would allow for such a conclusion. The Israelite judges were wicked men condemned to death by the true God, and therefore were not by any definition of deification candidates for godhood.
            If, then, the deification of man is to be found in Scripture, it will have to be on the basis of other biblical texts or themes, as Scripture gives men the title of “gods” only in a figurative or condemnatory sense.

The Image of God: An Exact Duplicate?

One biblical teaching upon which great emphasis is usually laid by those who teach some form of the deification of man is the doctrine of man as created and redeemed in the image of God. Of the many examples that could be given, two will have to suffice. Casey Treat’s claim that man is an “exact duplicate” of God is based on his understanding of the meaning of “image” in Genesis 1:26-27.[19] The Mormon apologetic for their doctrine that God is an exalted Man and that men can also become Gods typically appeals to the image of God in man, and to the parallel passage in Genesis 5:1-3 where Adam is said to have begotten Seth “in his own likeness, after his own image” (Genesis 5:1-3).[20]
            These claims raise two questions. Does the creation of man in the image of God imply that God Himself is an exalted man (as in Mormonism), or perhaps a spirit with the physical form or shape of a man (as in Armstrongism)? And does the image of God in man imply that men may become “gods”? There are several reasons why such conclusions are incorrect.
            First, there are the biblical statements which say that God is not a man (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Hos.11:9). Second, there is the biblical teaching on the attributes of God already mentioned, according to which God obviously cannot now or ever have been a man (except in the sense that the second person of the triune God became a man by taking upon Himself a second nature different from the nature of deity). Third, in the context of Genesis 1:26-27 and 5:1-3 there is one very important difference between the relationship between God and Adam on the one hand and Adam and Seth on the other hand: Adam was created or made by God, while Seth was begotten by Adam. To create or make something in the image or likeness of someone means to make something of a different kind that nevertheless somehow “pictures” or represents that someone (cf. Luke 20:24-25). It is therefore a mistake to reason backwards from the creation of man in God’s image to deduce the nature of God. Genesis 1:26-27 is telling us something about man, not about God.
            Besides the passages in Genesis (see also 9:6), the Old Testament says nothing else about the image of God. The New Testament teaches that man is still in God’s image (1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9), but also says that, in some unique sense, Christ is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). Christians are by virtue of their union with Christ being conformed to the image of God and of Christ resulting finally (after this life) in glorification (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29-30), which includes moral perfection (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) and an immortal physical body like Christ’s (1 Cor. 15:49; cf. Phil. 3:21).
            Orthodox biblical theologians and scholars do have some differences of opinion as to how best to define and explain what these passages mean by the “image of God.”[21] However, these differences are relatively minor, and do not obscure the basic truth of the image, which is that man was created as a physical representation (not a physical reproduction or “exact duplicate”) of God in the world. As such, he was meant to live forever, to know God personally, to reflect His moral character – His love – through human relationships, and to exercise dominion over the rest of the living creatures on the earth (Gen. 1:28-30; cf. Ps. 8:5-8).
            From the biblical teaching on the image of God, then, there is nothing which would warrant the conclusion that men are or will ever be “gods,” even “little gods,” as the “faith” teachers often put it.

Sons of God: Like Begets Like?

Although men are never called “gods” in an affirmative sense in Scripture, believers in Christ are called “sons” or “children” of God (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-23; Gal. 4:5-7; 1 John 3:1-2; etc.). Based on the assumption that sons are of the same nature as their father, some conclude that since believers are sons of God, they must also be gods. This reasoning is thought to be confirmed by those passages in John’s writings which speak of believers as being “begotten” or “born” of God (John 1:13; 3:5-6; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18).
            As convincing as this argument may seem, it actually goes beyond the Bible’s teaching and is at best erroneous and at worse heretical. The above Scriptures do not mean that the “sonship” of believers is a reproduction of God’s essence in man for the following reasons.
            1/ In one sense all human beings are God’s “offspring” (Acts 17:28), so that even Adam could be called God’s “son” (Luke 3:38); yet this cannot mean that human beings are gods or have the same nature as God, for the reasons already given in our analysis of the “image of God”.
            2/ Paul speaks of our sonship as an “adoption” (Rom. 8:15,23; Gal. 4:5), which of course suggests that we are not “natural” sons of God.
            3/ John, who frequently speaks of Christians as having been “begotten” by God, also tells us that Jesus Christ is the “only-begotten” or “unique” Son of God (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). At the very least, this means that we are not sons of God in the same sense that Christ is the Son of God, nor will we ever be. Christ was careful to distinguish between His Sonship and that of His followers (e.g., John 20:17). For this reason Kenneth Copeland’s assertion that “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God”[22] must be regarded as false doctrine.
            4/ Finally, the New Testament itself always interprets the spiritual birth which makes believers sons, not as a conversion of men into gods, but as a renewal in the moral likeness of God, produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and resulting in an intimate relationship with God as a Father who provides for His children’s needs (Matt. 5:9, 45; 6:8, 10, 32; 7:11,21; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6-7; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-5).
            The biblical doctrine that believers in Christ are children of God is a glorious teaching, to be sure, and what it means we do not yet fully know (1 John 3:2). But we do know something about what it means, as well as what it does not mean. It does mean eternal life with Christ-like holiness and love, in which the full potential of human beings as the image of God is realized. But it does not mean that we shall cease to be creatures, or that “human potential” is infinite, or that men shall be gods.

Union with Christ: Are Christians Incarnations of God?

The doctrine that Christians are adopted sons of God is closely related to the doctrine of the spiritual union between Christ and Christian believers. This union is expressed both as a union between Christ and the individual believer and as a union of Christ and the church. Paul in particular teaches that Christians are “in Christ” (a phrase which occurs over 160 times in Paul’s letters), “with Christ” in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Rom. 6:3-8; Eph. 2:5-6), corporately the “body” of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:12; Col. 1:18), that they have Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, dwelling within (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:17-20; 2 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 3:16-17), and that Christ Himself is their “life” (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4). On the basis of this teaching, many have concluded that Christians are in fact either a corporate extension of the Incarnation (as the church) or replications of the Incarnation (as individual Christians). Such a conclusion is often tied to the teaching of some concept of deification. The question is, does the Bible support such a conclusion?
            As with the doctrine of Christians as the sons of God, such ideas go far beyond the teaching of Scripture. To say that believers are “in Christ” means that they are somehow spiritually united to Christ, not that they are Christ. When Paul says that we have been crucified, buried, raised, and ascended with Christ, he is not speaking literally, but means simply that by virtue of our legal identification and close spiritual relationship with Christ we benefit by His death and resurrection. The teaching that the church is the body of Christ is also not to be taken literally, and should not be pressed to imply that the church is Christ or even an essential part of Christ. That the relationship between Christ and the church involves a substantial union without the church becoming Christ is best seen in the figure of the church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:28-32): the bride is physically united to her husband, yet they remain distinct. The Spirit indwells the believer, to be sure, but the believer does not become divine as a result, any more than the temple under the old covenant became a part of God simply because His presence filled it (cf. 1 Cor. 3:17). Christ is our life, not in the sense that our individuality is replaced by His person, but in the sense that we have eternal and spiritual life through our union with Him.
            Finally, the notion that each believer is somehow a duplicate of the Incarnation deserves a closer look. The rationale for this view is that an “incarnation” is defined as the indwelling of God in a human being; and since, we are told, this is as true of the Christian as it was of Christ, it follows that the Christian, as Kenneth Hagin puts it, “is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”[23] The error in this reasoning lies in the definition of “incarnation.” Christ was not merely God dwelling in a human being, a heresy (known as Nestorianism) the early church condemned because it meant that the Word did not actually become flesh (John 1:14) but only joined Himself to a human being. Rather, the incarnate Christ was one person in whom were perfectly united two natures, deity and humanity; the Christian is a person with one nature, human, in whom a separate person, God the Holy Spirit (and through Him, the Father and the Son as well), dwells.

Does Partaking of the Divine Nature Make Us Gods?

In 2 Peter 1:4 we are told that through God’s promises Christians may “become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” This text, even more so than Psalm 82, has suggested to many a doctrine of deification. And indeed, if by deification one means simply “partaking of the divine nature,” then such “deification” is unquestionably biblical. The question, then, is what does Peter mean by “partakers of divine nature”?
            Since the word “divine” is used earlier in the same sentence (“His divine power”, verse 3), where it must mean “of God,” “divine nature” must mean God’s nature. The word “nature,” however, should not be understood to mean “essence.” Rather, as the context makes evident, Peter is speaking of God’s moral nature or character. Thus Christians are by partaking of the divine nature to escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful lust, and are instead to exhibit the moral attributes of Christ (cf. verses 5-11).

DISCERNING ORTHODOX FROM HERETICAL TEACHINGS

It is not always easy to tell the difference between heretical and orthodox doctrines. Often people of different religions use the same or nearly the same words to express widely different ideas. One of the marks of the “cults,” in fact, is the use of Christian terminology to express non-Christian concepts.[24] This is very much the case with deification.
            How, then, can Christians tell the difference? There are four essential elements to an orthodox view of the relationship between God and man, and any doctrine which compromises or denies these teachings is less than soundly orthodox. These four elements are monotheism, trinitarianism, incarnationalism, and evangelicalism.
            Monotheism, as has already been explained, is the view that a single, unique, infinite Being (called God) created all other beings out of nothing, and that this Creator will forever be the only real, true God. Trinitarianism is the distinctive Christian revelation of God, according to which the one God exists eternally as three distinct but inseparable persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[25] Incarnationalism is the teaching that the second person of the Trinity (called the “Word” in John 1:1, 14, and the “Son” in Matthew 28:19), without ceasing to be God, became flesh, uniting uniquely in His one undivided person the two natures of deity and humanity. Evangelicalism is the belief that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
            With these four criteria of orthodoxy in mind, how do the various doctrines of deification measure up? The doctrines of the church fathers, as well as of Eastern Orthodoxy, are, as we have already indicated, thoroughly orthodox on all four points. Mormonism and Armstrongism fail on all four counts, and are therefore heretical. Union Life appears to hold to the Trinity and salvation by grace, but sets these doctrines in the context of panentheism; therefore, it too is heretical.
            But what shall we say about the “faith” teachers? They do affirm a monotheistic world view and generally affirm the Trinity (though there is some evidence of confusion on that score). Some at least of these teachers consider the Christian to be as much an incarnation as Jesus, and thus fail the third test. Most speak unguardedly of man as existing in “God’s class,” of being the same “kind” as God, and so forth, even while occasionally making disclaimers about men never becoming equal to God. Are these teachers heretics, or are they orthodox?
            It may be that a simple black-or-white approach to this question is inappropriate in some cases. Certainly these teachers are not to be placed in the same category as Mormonism and Armstrongism, since the “faith” teachers affirm monotheism and trinitarianism. Yet too many statements have been made by these teachers which can only be called heretical, though it may be that such statements are due to carelessness or hyperbole and not actual heretical belief. It is to be hope that the “faith” teachers will recognize the errors of their unbiblical statements and repent of them. Until that time, their doctrine of men being “little gods” is so far from being orthodox that it should not be placed in that category either. How, then, should we categorize such teachings?
            In recent years ministries which specialize in discerning orthodox from heretical teachings have been using the term “aberrational” to describe teachings which do not fit neatly into either the orthodox or heretical category. Specifically, “heretical” teaching explicitly denies essential biblical truth, while “aberrational” teaching compromises or confuses essential biblical truth. Both are in error, but a heresy is an outright rejection or opposition to truth, while an aberration is a distortion or misunderstanding of truth only. Aberrational teachers affirm the essential doctrines of orthodoxy, and then go on to teach doctrines that compromise or are otherwise inconsistent with orthodoxy, while heretics actually deny one or more of the essentials.
            It we apply this distinction to the cases at hand, their usefulness becomes apparent. Mormonism and Armstrongism both explicitly reject certain essential teachings of orthodoxy; they are therefore heretical. Union Life rejects monotheism in favor of panentheism; it is also heretical. Many of the “faith” teachers affirm the essentials, but then go on to teach doctrines which undermine their professed orthodoxy; their doctrine is aberrational and false. On the other hand, there are, unfortunately, at least some “faith” teachers (for example, Kenneth Copeland) whose teachings are so opposed to orthodoxy that they can only be regarded as heretical.
            It is not always easy to decide whether a teaching is orthodox, aberrational, or heretical. Nevertheless, it can be done, and we should not allow the unpopularity of making doctrinal judgments to deter us from the necessary (if sometimes unpleasant) task of evaluating questionable teaching. In doing so, we must avoid the extreme of labeling as heretics absolutely everyone who uses the term “deification,” as well as the extreme of regarding as Christian any doctrine of deification which makes reference to Christ. It is the substance of each doctrine which must be examined as the basis for discerning whether it is orthodox, aberrational, or heretical. Only in this way can the church’s calling to “test the spirits, to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1) be fulfilled.

NOTES

1 Norman Geisler and William Watkins, Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s World Views (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1984).
2 See, for example, Gerald Bonner, “Augustine’s Conception of Deification,” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 37 (Oct. 1986): 369-386.
3 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), 317.
4 Van Hale, “Defining the Mormon Doctrine of Deity,” Sunstone 10, 1 (1985), 25-26.
5 See especially Philip Barlow, “Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History,” Sunstone 9 (Sept.-Oct. 1984), 13-18.
6 See “A Summary Critique: Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong,” elsewhere in this issue of CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.
7 “A Case in Point: Union Life,” Cornerstone, 9, 52 (1980), 32-36.
8 Norman Grubb, “The Question Box,” Union Life 6 (May-June 1981), 23.
9 Norman Grubb, “The Question Box,” Union Life 6 (July-Aug. 1981), 23.
10 See “A Case in Point: Union Life,” 32-33.
11 Tom Carroll, “The Mystery According to St. Augustine,” Union Life 10 (Nov.-Dec. 1985), 20-21.
12 Brian A. Onken, “A Misunderstanding of Faith,” FORWARD 5 (1982), and Onken, “The Atonement of Christ and the ‘Faith’ Message,” FORWARD 7 (1984).
13 E.g., Casey Treat, Complete Confidence: The Attitude for Success (Seattle, WA: Casey Treat Ministries, 1985), 319-324.
14 At private meetings between Walter Martin and Larry Duckworth with Frederick K.C. Price on May 1, 1986, and between Walter Martin and Casey Treat in early April, 1987.
15 Treat, 82-83, 306-327; Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1972), iii.
16 Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition, lvi.
17 On the biblical teaching on the nature of God, see The Nature and Attributes of God, by Robert and Gretchen Passantino of CARIS (write to CARIS, P.O. Box 2067, Costa Mesa, CA 92628), or this author’s outline study, “The Attributes of God,” available from CRI (order #DA-250).
18 E. Jungkuntz, “An Approach to the Exegesis of John 10:34-36,” Concordia Theological Monthly 35 (1964):560.
19 Casey Treat, Renewing the Mind: The Arena for Success (Seattle, WA: Casey Treat Ministries, 1985), 90.
20 Barlow, 17.
21 See G.C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, Studies in Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 37-118.
22 Kenneth Copeland, Now We Are in Christ Jesus (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1980), 24.
23 Kenneth E. Hagin, “The Incarnation,” The Word of Faith (Dec. 1980), 14.
24 Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, rev. ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 18-24.
25 Introductory literature on the Trinity is available from CRI.

link here

Kenneth Hagin Ministries: Where’s the Faith?
by Jay Howard

The United States is known by most nations of the world as a nation of wealth. It should be no surprise that in a country of wealth, there should be a doctrine that helps to establish this concept as a biblical truth on par with salvation and other teachings of Holy Writ.

This teaching is known to many as the Word of Faith. It teaches that by confessing to God that you want a particular thing (wealth, healing, a new car, new house etc.) and having established the proper amount of faith to appropriate the desired item, you can command God to give it to you.

The Word of Faith (WF) teaches that God developed these rules or laws of faith and therefore since He has set them in motion, He must obey his own law. Therefore, all anyone must do is apprehend these laws and God must obey you when you ask for the things that you desire.

The person who is thought of as the father of this teaching is Kenneth Hagin of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s so well regarded, that he is often referred to by those who follow WF teachings as “Papa” Hagin. According to his booklets, articles and in his magazine, “The Word of Faith”, he has believed and lived by these teachings for more than fifty years. In this article we will explore the statements of Kenneth Hagin concerning his vows of confession.

We will also attempt to discover whether Hagin himself believes the teachings he claims are biblical and have universal application to all people It is clear that when Hagin speaks of the “laws of faith” he believes that anyone can put them into practice.

“It used to bother me when I’d see unsaved people getting results, but my church members not getting results. Then it dawned on me what the sinners were doing. They were cooperating with the law of God — the law of faith.”1

He says there are four parts to getting from God what you desire. These four are confessing what you want, believing that you have what you want, receiving what you want and telling others you have what you want.

Hagin tells us that Jesus appeared to him in Phoenix, Arizona and revealed the keys for people to get from God what they want.2

Hagin says this about the need for a positive confession, “If you talk about your trials, your difficulties, your lack of faith, your lack of money — your faith will shrivel up and dry up. But bless God, if you talk about the Word of God, your lovely Heavenly Father and what He can do — your faith will grow by leaps and bounds.”3 Presumably you receive what you desire if you confess in a proper manner.

Next you believe that you have it and sometimes you must wed your belief, that you are getting from God what you told Him you want with a particular action. “Jesus dictated to me during my vision, ‘Your action defeats or puts you over. According to your action you receive or you are kept from receiving.'”4

Mr. Hagin is telling us that if you do something wrong in the formula, you perform a particular action or refrain from another particular action you will prevent God from delivering the thing that you have confessed. In other words, you will need to judge for yourself during the process which action will be the correct action to perform that will assure you your confessed goal (be it material goods or physical healing). The corollary would be, if you perform the wrong action, this will negate God’s ability to deliver what you asked. It is all up to you!

Thirdly you must accept the thing you have confessed. “…..I simply acted on Mark 11:23,24. I began to say, “I believe God. I believe I receive healing for the deformed heart. I believe I receive healing for the paralysis….”5

Telling God and yourself is the third component of Hagin’s positive confession formula. As you tell God and yourself you believe, you again are letting God know that he is obligated to give you your petition (If one can use the word loosely because petition denotes something that can be denied).

The last step in this series is to tell others you have been granted the very thing you seek. This must be done before you have tangible evidence that the goods have been delivered. Hagin explains, “Jesus said to me, ‘Tell it so others may believe’..

David knew you can have what you say. He knew you can write your own ticket He is writing it here. He knew God would do anything he would believe Him for.”6

The intent of this article is not to exhaustively refute this theory but rather to see if Hagin himself applies this formula to himself. However, let me say this. God does not answer prayer due to a completion of a set of rules. Jesus for instance told people not to tell others after He healed them (Math. 9:28-29). This would violate rule 4 that Jesus supposedly told Hagin was necessary to receive from God (it is beyond the scope of this article to explore which Jesus actually spoke with Hagin in Phoenix or if there was any vision at all).

The biblical notion of faith is simply trust in God. Jesus many times performed healing with precious little or no faith evident on the part of those who received (Mark 9:24, Luke 17:6, Math. 4:23). In these instances the only thing that was confessed was a father’s fear that he may not have enough belief. These examples openly contradict Rule 1 concerning a positive confession needed to get from God and also Rule 3 that you believe fervently for yourself that you have what you want.

When you look at the Gospels with an open objective mind, you find that Jesus never followed a formulaic approach to anything let alone how He granted the petitions of those who sought his divine help. That should team us that Jesus, who was God while He lived on earth, was still sovereign over all things. (Colossians 1:15-17)

He performed miracles not because He was compelled to like some trained seal performing at his master’s command, but because His creatures implored Him and He felt compassion for them.

Does Hagin Follow His Own Rules?

I receive a monthly magazine from Hagin’s ministry and because I am on his mailing list I also receive every two to three months a letter signed by Kenneth Hagin Senior requesting money that I am to send to his ministry.

In a letter dated June 1995, Hagin requests money for classroom chairs: “We are in need of 5,000 desk chairs for all the classrooms and seminar auditorium… I realize that the total for all 5,000 chairs is a very large sum of money. However, I believe that if all of us work together, we can accomplish this project.”

There was a letter dated October 1995 in which more money was requested: “….That is why we always depend upon the special offerings that we receive as a result of the letter I send to you every October. Your offerings help us catch up on the expenses of the maintenance and preparations during the summer and also help us through the holidays until I write to you again in February.””

This hardly sounds like the same man who wrote the booklets, “How to Write Your Own Ticket with God” and “Having Faith In Your Faith.” He says in those booklets, to obtain wealth, power, possessions, etc. from God, all one needs to do is follow 4 rules or steps as we have quoted previously. He said nothing about sending a letter requesting money from people, as a fifth rule.

Kenneth Hagin has as of 12-21-95 over 500,000 people on his mailing list, according to the public relations office at his headquarters In Tulsa, OK.

The reality is that when it comes to following his own prescription for receiving from God, Hagin fails. There seems to be an easy way to obtain money from WF theology; have a mailing list of half a million. There would be no need to request money if this so called WF formula was truly a biblical mandate.

This not an indictment of Christian ministries that solicit money through the mail (Though some would say there are those that funds, with irritating frequency, bordering on harassment). However, when an organization and or a person proclaims vigorously, as Hagin does, that all you have to do is put into practice this four point formula and God will obligingly respond with whatever you demand from Him; Then turns and sends special requests for money, it is hypocritical and proves that he has no ultimate faith in the efficacy of the formula.

It should be clear at this juncture that WF doesn’t work for Hagin nor anyone else in the movement It is so much smoke and mirrors. It is my prayer that many will see the fruitlessness of the non biblical teaching and repent of its corrupt practices. For true biblical faith is essential to understanding God and walking with Him in a truly balanced Christian life. The WF doctrine is only a diabolical counterfeit and will destroy what it claims to build, the faith of believers.

Bibliography–Footnotes

1. Having Faith In Your Faith, Kenneth Hagin; (Rhema Bible Church) p. 4,5.

2. How to Write Your Own Ticket With God, Kenneth Hagin; (Rhema Bible
Church) p. 1-5.

3. Ibid.p.l0.

5. Ibid.p.l6.

6. Ibid. p.19,23. (Emphasis in the original)

7. Letter from Kenneth Hagin Ministries, dated June1995. pg.2.

8. Letter from Kenneth Hagin Ministries, dated October 1995. Pg.2.

http://www.focusonthefaulty.com/Pages/hagin.html

 

 

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.

GOD

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).

JESUS CHRIST

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).

THE ATONEMENT

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).

MAN

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).

FAITH

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.

http://www.gospeloutreach.net/whatwordfaith.html

AGAINST THE THEOLOGY OF GLORY

 © 2001 R. S. Clark. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

Many Christians today take it as an article of faith that God must deliver Christians from trials and tribulations. This is an age in which Benny Hinn’s ridiculous books have sold millions and he is but the latest charlatan selling health and wealth to gullible Christians. Why is such a view, that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy and not to suffer so plausible to so many? There are a variety of answers.

The first answer is that this is nothing new. There have always been competitors to the Christian teaching on suffering. Martin Luther railed against what he called “the theology of glory,” i.e., a theology which replaces Christ with something else or seeks to get to God without Christ the Mediator. The theology of glory I have in mind is the reigning American triumphalism of revivalist (and Reformed) evangelicalism. Almost weekly some well-meaning evangelical announces that there is a coming revival. Bill Bright has been announcing a revival for years. Meanwhile real, weekly, church attendance rests at 10% (weekly) and rather less who attend to the means of grace in two services.

If there is precious little empirical evidence for this alleged revival, why the apparent excitement? Another partial answer is the powerful influence of Modernity upon American Christians. One of the chief doctrines of Modernity has been the doctrine of progress, that things are getting better every day in every way. As a schoolboy I remember teachers reciting this as a mantra. Such an idea of progress, whether personal or corporate (social or ecclesial) is not Biblical. Its founded in the doctrines of the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. Its founded in the notion that God has left the world to us, and we must make of it what we will. Its founded in a denial of the doctrine of original sin.

The Modern doctrine of progress has fit hand-in-glove with inherent flesh- and world-denying tendencies of American fundamentalism. Fundamentalists are famous, of course, for what they are (or used to be) against. In days past, they were against movies, cards and liquor. Now they make movies and produce cards with Jesus’ picture on them. I guess liquor is still mostly taboo, but they have often identified the “world” not as an ethical category, but an ontological category, so that they have identified the “world” with creation so that it is their very flesh they must overcome. This is, of course, a mild sort of gnosticism and it is not hard to find Gnostic strains through fundamentalism in the modern period to this very day.

Some years ago, in Chicago, I heard on one radio station, a fundamentalist offering secret knowledge (gnosis) about how to speak in tongues, for $29.95, “send now before midnight.” On the other end of the dial, at the same time, I heard a hyper-dispensationalist explaining how the Pauline epistles are “not for today.” He too would give me the secret insights for a sum. It was dueling mystery religions and, ironically, the combatants would deny they had anything in common at all.

Both, however, are children of the “higher life” movement. Both were offering, in their own ways, the secret to overcoming my humanity. Like the old monks (whom they would repudiate) both were calling me not to trust in Christ and his righteousness imputed to me, but to take that next step toward the blessing, whatever it might be.

So it is that both are also the children of Modernity, both are more or less Pelagian, both really believe in Progress (personally, morally, if not socially) but both are also selling world-flight. Doubtless both of them also hold the sort of premillennial eschatology which features deliverance from the tribulation through the rapture, followed by a seven-year tribulation, a sort of purgatory/second chance for those who missed the first bus, followed by the earthly millennium — during which Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered once for all, is said to reign on an earthly throne, in Jerusalem, watching Jewish priests offer sacrificial memorial lambs. The golden age is said to be followed by Armageddon and then, eventually the judgment. The point here is that, the view that God ought to deliver his people from rather than through tribulation has been fed and made plausible by the Modern American desire to conquer nature through the use of technology.

Part of the attraction of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth is that it is a form of esoteric knowledge. The other part of the attraction is that the rapture is said to come before suffering and in order to deliver Christians from suffering. It is not surprising that this view has gained such immense popularity at the same time as the rise of Modernity.

One of the most obnoxious forms of triumphalism to afflict the American church is reconstructionist postmillennialism. It is most ironic that reconstructionist postmillennialism, is actually quite like dispensational premillennialism in significant ways. Like the hyper-dispensationalist and the Pentecostal, they are more closely related than they might like to acknowledge.

The other side of world-denying premillennialism is the rise of a new version of postmillennialism which, though somewhat more world affirming, also features a golden-age, in their view, brought about by the preaching of the gospel. Though some versions, at least, teach a great apostasy in the church before golden-age, postmillennialism has similar attractions as premillennialism, secret, esoteric knowledge, a future earthly golden-age and progress. The influence of the Modern doctrine of progress is even more obvious in the case of contemporary postmillennialism.

In recent decades, however, under the formulations of David Chilton, R.J. Rushdoony, G. Bahnsen and others, a “world-flight” of another sort has become more prominent. These reconstructionist postmillennialists (in distinction from the more traditional Postmillennialism of C. Hodge and B.B. Warfield) are deny the necessity of suffering for the Christian. Instead they argue that the suffering described for the church was actually completed prior to A.D. 70. This new postmillennial school is now advocating a version of what appears to be triumphalism.

By triumphalism I mean the attitude which tends to think of the church as “irresistibly conquering throughout the centuries…seemingly more interested in upholding its own rights and privileges than in promoting the salvation of all.” (P.F. Chirco, s.v., in The New Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 14, 1967, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press)

There is evidence that Scripture itself addresses and rejects triumphalism. One writer describes Paul’s opponents at Philippi as having the following positions, “…the attaching of little significance to the Cross, a confident triumphalist theology, a strongly realized eschatology, and religious and moral perfectionism through obedience to Torah, especially circumcision. (C. Mearns, New Testament Student, vol.3, 1987,194-204.)

It is the contention of this essay that both versions of triumphalism/world-flight are mistakes. Rather, the Christian ethic and eschatology entails that we affirm this world as essentially good, if fallen, and that we are called not to flee (or be secretly raptured from) suffering for Christ between the first and second advents. Suffering for Christ is not an exception, it is the rule for Christians, it is a mark of this inter-adventual age. Our model is the incarnation itself. All true Christians affirm that Jesus was true man and true God. The Apostle John says that anyone who denies the humanity of Christ is anti-Christ. Jesus, the God-Man, the true man, the Second Adam, actively obeyed his Father and suffered through his entire life, and especially in his passion and death. This is the pattern for the Christian life.

Amillennialists, who hold that there is no earthly golden-age, that we are now in the millennium (i.e., Rev. 20 symbolically describes the inter-adventual period) predictably, find themselves between these two poles. There is a great deal which has been fulfilled by the first advent of Jesus. Thus Paul says all the promises of God have their yea and amen in Christ. Yet there is a great amount of tension between what has been fulfilled in principle and what is yet to be consummated. A. Hoekema, an amillennialist, finds a great deal of incentive for godly living in the tension produced by the amillennial stress both on the “already” aspect and the “impending” (consummation) aspect of eschatology.

For instance, this tension implies that the struggle against sin continues throughout this present life. Yet the struggle is to be engaged in, not in defeat, but in the confidence of victory. We know that Christ has dealt a death blow to Satan’s kingdom, and that Satan’s doom is certain. (The Bible and the Future, 71)

This is true not only on an individual level, but a cosmic level as well. The relationship between the already and the not yet is not one of absolute antithesis, but rather one of continuity. The former is a foretaste of the latter. The New Testament teaches that there is a close connection between the quality of our present life and the quality of the life beyond the grave. To indicate the way in which the present life is related to the life to come the New Testament uses such figures as that of the prize, the crown, the fruit, the harvest, the grain, and the ear, sowing and reaping, (see. Gal.6.8) Concepts of this sort teach us that we have a responsibility to live for God’s praise to the best of our ability even while we continue to fall short of perfection. (The Bible and the Future, 71)

It is in response to popular trend of reconstructionist triumphalism that I offer a brief examination of the role of suffering in the New Testament as a mark of the progress of Redemption and the impact eschatology upon the ethics of the New Testament. The purpose of this study is not to be exhaustive, but suggestive of a third way of viewing our relationship to this world and the question of “world-flight.”

Far from being a mere adjunct to the Christian life, suffering is, in the New Testament, an almost essential mark of the Christian life. Contrary to triumphalism, it is suffering which more often than not is a sign of blessing, not wealth or power. The relation of suffering to the personal eschatological questions has not been totally ignored by the church. The eschatological necessity of suffering is implied in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. We are first to persevere through sin and temptation. Secondarily we are to persevere through persecution. This is a reflection of the Biblical doctrine of suffering.

Suffering is a pervasive theme in the NT. Several factors figure prominently in this theme of the suffering of Christians in the NT. A brief look at a few passages should be enough to establish the thesis that in the New Testament that suffering is eschatologically necessary. That is, Christian suffering is a mark of the New Covenant.

It is a commonplace among NT writers that when those who are opposed to Christ lash out at us, it is, actually Christ who they seek to hurt. It was understood in the NT that the same rejection of Christ which led to his crucifixion would continue. So expected was it among the church that Paul tells the Thessalonians in 3.4 that he foretold that “we are about to suffer, just as also it occurred and you know.” (Barker Lane and Micheals, The New Testament Speaks, 153)

Such a common notion lies behind such passages as Phil 1.13,20 and esp. vs.29; Romans 5.1-11; 8.35-38; 2 Cor 1.3-11 and especially vs.5 where he makes the striking statement that the “sufferings of Christ overflow unto us”.

I. Key Terms

The key verbs are Anechomai, Pascho, Adikeo, and their derivatives. Anecho has reference to relieving words (Heb. 13.22) and other objects. It often has reference to receiving things from men, or in the case of 2 Timothy 4.3 not receiving or bearing with sound doctrine. Though the word is middle in form and thus we would expect it to be deponent in meaning, it is used as a passive exclusively in the N.T. Anechomai is not used often in the NT to refer directly to suffering. It is worth noting where it does, because of the passive force of the word. In 1 Corinthians 4.12 It has the sense of “enduring or receiving” sufferings. In 2 Thessalonians 1.4 the word is used to describe the Thlipsin which the Thessalonians endured.

Adikeo generally is used to designate “hurting” “injuring” someone. In Acts 25.10, Paul declares that he has not injured (Edikesa) the Jews. The first text using this verb which tends toward the idea of enduring hurt is 1 Corinthians 6.7 where, using the passive form, Paul exhorts them to be willing to be wronged, (Adikeisthe). In 2 Corinthians 7.12 he uses the verb to describe a “wronged” party in a dispute.

This term also occurs in the Apocalypse. In 2.11 the Lord promises that the second death will not harm (Adikethe) the overcomer. In 6.6 it refers to “damaging” the oil and the wine. 7.3 uses it of doing “harm” to the earth. The only deviation from this pattern is in 22.11 where John characterizes some one who acts unjustly with this verb.

Pascho of course is the NT verb associated most often with our Lord’s vicarious suffering. Of the three this word occurs most frequently in the NT. In Matthew 16.21, 17.12, (see. parallels Mark 8.31, 9.12), Luke 22.15, 24.26,46, Acts 1.3, 3.18, 17.3, Hebrews 2.18, 5.8, 9.26, 13.12, Pascho refers to the suffering of Christ on the cross. Thus, in these contexts, given the centrality of the cross in the gospels, the message of the cross provides the core meaning for this word in the NT.

This verb, however, is not applied just to Christ. In Acts 9.16 Luke records the words of the ascended Lord which Ananias is to carry to Paul, “I will show him how much it is necessary (Dei ) to suffer for my name.” Applied to us, the word has a derivative meaning. We suffer not the outpouring of God’s wrath, for Christ has suffered eschatologically once for all, but in the NT epistles especially we suffer the outpouring of the wrath of the world, Satan, and the powers of this age.

The verb Dei, is the term most often used to communicate necessity. It is also central to the thesis of this paper. It is relatively easy to demonstrate the force of Dei in the N.T. The clearest example is John 3.14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up.” It is necessary in that it is the requisite for salvation. (v.15) It has this sort of force in many places throughout the New Testament. It with passages like John 3.14,15 in mind that we are speaking of “eschatological necessity”.

Theologically we speak of consequent necessity. It was not necessary for God to save man, but having willed to save some, the cross became a necessity to the accomplishment of the Divine will. Our suffering does not have the same necessity. But it does have a derived necessity. It is derived from our union with Christ. I hope to show that union with Christ, in the NT, necessarily entails suffering. We suffer because of our union with Christ. We suffered and died in Him. So also do we now suffer subsequent to His suffering.

II. Exposition

Nowhere in the gospels, perhaps nowhere in the NT is the union between Christ and believers and its implications taught so clearly than in John 15.1-17 Jesus outlines the fact that He is the vine and those who are united to Him by the Holy Spirit, true faith, bear fruit. Jesus says he will consummate this union by laying down his own life for his friends, those whom he has chosen.

Beginning with v.18 he outlines the implications which union with Christ has for believers. “If the Kosmos hates you, keep in mind that the Kosmos hated me first.” The world does not hate those who are “united” ethically to it. The servant is not greater than the master. The master suffered, so the servant should not expect to escape a similar fate. Jesus is describing a normal part of the Christian life. That Christians in any era should be free of suffering is, as we will see, an aberration.

In Rom 5:1-11, (especially vs.4) where Paul takes it as a given that identification with the death of Christ entails suffering. It is the almost casual way he goes about describing the relationship of suffering to the glories of the Gospel that it is striking. (see. Galatians 3.4)

Paul says in v.3 that because of our relation to Jesus, we boast in suffering. Robert Schuller is wrong. Paul is not saying that “when things get tough, the tough get tougher.” Rather he is saying that our sufferings (Thlipsis), demonstrate the eschatological (and consequently) ethical antithesis between the Christian and the World. Suffering is an affirmation of our union with Christ. This is the prelude to the locus classicus for the doctrine of imputation, which is another aspect of our union with Christ.

Romans 8.18ff. Paul compares the sufferings (Pathemata) of the present age semi-eschatological with the glory to be revealed in us. For this revelation creation itself is anxious. What is the object of the anxiety? The redemption of our bodies. (v.24) He is looking for the resurrection. Because of our weakness and groanings (because of suffering?) the Spirit intercedes for us. Vs.35: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Thlipsis or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

These are not just random selections of difficult things used in contrast with Christ’s love. These are real life experiences shared by the Roman Christians before and after the reception of the letter. The references are unmistakable. This is part of the reason Paul turns their attention for comfort to the unbreakable golden chain of God’s decrees in 8.28-30.

In 1 Cor 13.3 Paul lists things with which perhaps the Corinthians are familiar. Among them is giving one’s body over to be burned. Clearly there is a reference here to martyrdom. It was apparently common enough in the first century, that Paul could casually mention it as an example, without having to explain that Christians sometimes were martyred for the faith.

In 2 Corinthians 1.3ff, Paul’s doxology to the Father, one of the things for which Paul is grateful is deliverance from Thlipsis (vv.4ff.). We are familiar with the benefits of suffering from this passage, namely patience, but this is not the only reason Paul mentions it.

In vv.4,5 he is contrasting the comfort God gives to his saints through the Holy Spirit, with the sufferings which are ours of a course. He even speaks of Christ’s Pathemata abounding, or overflowing to us. Paul even identifies his (and our) sufferings with Christ’s. What does he mean?

We saw in the gospels with reference to Christ, Pascho has a technical meaning. This is proof of the derivative meaning I posited earlier. Paul is arguing that identification and mystical union with Christ necessarily means that we endure persecution at the hands of those who still hate Jesus. Because of that identification and union our sufferings become, in one sense, part of a continuum with Christ’s. The discontinuity is that his are perfect and propitiatory and ours derivative. (see. W. Michealis, TDNT vol.5, s.v. Pascho )

The comfort we relieve comes from Jesus. A reciprocal relationship is envisioned. In v.7 Paul says that his hope for the Corinthians is firm because he knows they are experiencing this reciprocal relationship.

Phil 1.29. This passage establishes unshakably that in the mind of Paul, there was a necessary correlation between election in Christ and suffering. Let me quote the passage beginning with vs.27

Only this, conduct yourselves worthily of the gospel of Christ, then whether coming, I see you or being absent hear about you, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit (in the One Spirit?) working as one man for the faith of the gospel, and not being frightened in any way by the ones opposing you, which opposition is proof of their destruction, and of your salvation, and this salvation is from God. Because it has been granted to you not only to believe but to suffer on behalf of Christ, having the same struggle which you saw regarding me and now hear regarding me.

Several things become abundantly clear in this passage. First, Paul correlates opposition to the gospel and adherence to the gospel. Both are proofs. Opposition is proof that one is reprobate. Adherence and “co-working”, Sunerchomai is proof of salvation. This destruction is proleptic. The opponents are still opposing.

So also the salvation is proleptic, since we are still struggling (Agona) In v.29 he argues that the cause of this antagonistic relationship is that being in union with Christ necessarily entails suffering.

We cannot fail to notice the second correlation, that of the grant to believe and also to suffer. Just as there exists a corollary between belief and unbelief, so also there is a corollary between election and suffering. We can no more escape suffering than election. For Paul both are sovereign donations of God. Neither can suffering be limited to the first century by some artificial construction, since in that case we would have to restrict election to the first century.

The force of 2 Thessalonians 1:5 is equally clear. Paul praises God for their faith and he boasts in their perseverance. Notice that he does not boast in their dominion but in their perseverance. The notion of “eschatological necessity” explains why Paul uses the phrase “counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”

The kingdom here is both present and future. The present suffering indicates membership in the present kingdom and inheritance of the future kingdom. If there are three marks of the true church, then perhaps this is a mark of the true Christian, suffering.

Paul is not the only writer in the NT to make use of this notion. In 1 Peter 2.19-23 Peter contrasts two kinds of suffering, that which is incurred justly and that which is incurred unjustly. The former is commendable, the latter is not. What is important to notice here is that first suffering is commendable, and second, (v.21) he says “you were called to this”, i.e. suffering. Why? Because Christ is our eschatological-ethical example, and because of our union with Him we are to follow in his footsteps. Peter places suffering in the category of Christian duty. (see 1 Peter 3.14-18.) It is clearer nowhere else than in 1 Peter 4.12ff. that suffering is the normal lot of the Christian, because of our Spiritual connection to the ascended Christ.

With all this common NT background it should not surprise us to see it reappear in the Apocalypse. If for the sake of argument the recapitulation reading of chapter 12 is allowed, then the relationship of the Dragon to the Woman is colorful allegory of the didactic truth which we have clearly seen elsewhere. Indeed, the entire Apocalypse is a series of progressive parallels intended to explain to suffering Christians (Rev. ch’s 1-3) in the cities of Asia Minor, why it was, Jesus having ascended to his royal glory, they continued to suffer at the hands of opponents and authorities. Jesus’ explanation, through the visions given to John, is that it is, in effect, a mark of this age. This is the age of the tribulation, the slaying of the prophets, the wasting of God’s people, so that only a remnant will remain at the coming of the Lamb in wrath.

Conclusion

The doctrine which I have tried briefly to establish in this paper is the eschatological necessity of suffering. Suffering, because of our union with Christ, is consistently represented in the NT as a fruit and proof that we are united with him. Because we are Christ’s body, and the antithesis between Christ and the World continues, the world pours out its hatred for Christ upon us. We in turn receive assurance of faith, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit as we fill up and share in Christ’s sufferings.

Christian suffering, which the Apostle Peter distinguishes sharply from suffering for the sake of wrongdoing, is part and parcel of being a Christian. It is to be expected. Inasmuch as it is a mark of this age, for the Christian, it is necessary. Therefore we ought to expect it. We ought not be surprised when “fiery trials” come upon us.

This view is in stark contrast with both premillennialists who find that Christ’s teachings in Matt 5-7 do not apply today (for whatever bizarre reason) and those postmillennialists (e.g., Gary North) who regard Jesus’ sermon as applicable only for those who are oppressed so that they will not apply in the coming golden age. The view advocated in this essay rejects both these approaches as, at once too other worldly and not heavenly minded enough. Just as Christ our Savior suffered in his flesh, so shall we. Just as he was raised, if he tarries, so shall we be raised. Just as he has been glorified, so shall we be glorified, where glory belongs, in heaven, with the Savior.

http://www.wscal.edu/clark/suffering.php

 
 
‘Bailout’ vs. prosperity
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Posted on Oct 3, 2008LOUISVILLE, Ky.
(BP)–Now that the economic “bailout” plan has been passed by Congress, expect all parties involved to claim credit if it appears to work and deny blame if the crisis worsens. Though the primary problem is a crisis in the credit markets and the financial sector, the entire economy feels the crunch. The crisis now may lie in the awareness of uncertainty — and no one likes uncertainty when it comes to matters economic.
The public is also bracing for more bad news. Just today (Oct. 3), the state of California announced that it might need a $7 billion bailout. The state’s credit rating is not the problem, but the state has been unable to get the short-term money it needs, given the constriction of credit. Who is next?

There are a host of issues to be considered here. Many Americans are just waking up to the basic facts of economics. Most, sad to say, remain oblivious. Some among the more curious are discovering how much borrowing and lending goes on in the course of business — and among their neighbors.

Niall Ferguson, one of the world’s most influential historians, puts much of this into perspective in an essay published in the current issue of TIME magazine. In “The End of Prosperity?” Ferguson argues that another Great Depression — a “Depression 2.0” — is avoidable. Nevertheless, a period of far less material prosperity is almost surely at hand.

He explains: “The U.S. — not to mention Western Europe — is in the grip of a downward spiral that financial experts call deleveraging. Having accumulated debts beyond what’s sustainable, households and financial institutions are being forced to reduce them. The pressure to do so results from a decline in the price of the assets they bought with the money they borrowed. It’s a vicious feedback loop. When families and banks tip into bankruptcy, more assets get dumped on the market, driving prices down further and necessitating more deleveraging. This process now has so much momentum that even $700 billion in taxpayers’ money may not suffice to stop it.”

The unavoidable reduction of debt is traumatic at every level. Excessive and unsustainable valuations led to bad decisions and the illusion of free money. It never lasts. The “deleveraging” we are now witnessing will take some time to run its course. And that course is still unpredictable.

The most interesting part of Ferguson’s analysis has to do with the causes and course of the Great Depression as compared to the present crisis. His historical precision and honesty are helpful — even as his analysis is bracing.

One of the most interesting paragraphs in Ferguson’s essay has to do with the credit crisis at the household level. Consider this: “In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year. Much of the increase in debt was used to invest in real estate. The result was a bubble; at its peak, average U.S. house prices were rising at 20% a year. Then — as bubbles always do — it burst. The S&P Case-Shiller index of house prices in 20 cities has been falling since February 2007. And the decline is accelerating. In June prices were down 16% compared with a year earlier. In some cities — like Phoenix and Miami — they have fallen by as much as a third from their peaks. The U.S. real estate market hasn’t faced anything like this since the Depression. And the pain is not over. Credit Suisse predicts that 13% of U.S. homeowners with mortgages could end up losing their homes.”

We can only wonder how many Americans realize that total household borrowing now amounts to the productivity of the entire U.S. economy for a year. That is a staggering reality. Such borrowing levels are economically unsustainable. At the level of the individual household, this downturn can be catastrophic.

The Christian tradition has been very suspicious of credit and borrowing. Usury laws and a bias against borrowing and lending dissuaded most Christians from borrowing except in a dire emergency. Until fairly recently, the widespread use of consumer credit was unimaginable among Christians. Evidence that this is no longer the case can be found the popularity of so many Christian financial advisers who have been calling for believers to get out of debt.

In another article — fascinating on its own — TIME’s David van Biema looks at the influence of prosperity theology in the current credit crisis. His article, “Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?” starts with a punch: “Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, explained it this way: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘if you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.”

It is easy to see how prosperity theology could lead to these unwarranted assumptions. Prosperity theology is a lie, and a false Gospel. We are not promised economic or financial prosperity in the Gospel. We are promised what money cannot buy and poverty cannot take away.

It is also easy for non-charismatic critics of prosperity theology to look down on those who were so susceptible to its false promises. Many devotees of prosperity theology are desperate in ways the more privileged cannot understand, and they are prey to both lenders and preachers promising prosperity.

I must wonder how many other Christians — far removed theologically from Charismatic prosperity theology — might have bought into a very different prosperity theology. Have we all been seduced by the idea that prosperity is a given? Do we now think that prosperity is our right? Do we associate prosperity with the blessings we receive in the Gospel?

Perhaps we all need a refresher course in Christian economics and Christian theology. Niall Ferguson argues from the record of history in looking to the current crisis. Perhaps we should remember our own history lesson — that far more believers in Christ have been and are now among the poor, rather than among the wealthy. We should hear Jesus warn against materialism and Paul remind us that we are to be content when we have plenty and when we have little. We should know that the Christian virtue of thrift is incompatible with the lies of those who push consumer credit.

We are not promised prosperity. When we do enjoy prosperity, we should be thankful stewards — not peddlers of our own prosperity theology.
–30–
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared on his blog at www.AlbertMohler.com

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=29071

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THE HARMFUL TEACHINGS OF KENNETH AND GLORIA COPELAND Written by Cedric Hohnstadt

(NOTE: I want to be honest and fair, so all quotes are footnoted. Any time I used a quote that I could not personally verify, it is preceeded by the word “allegedly”, as in “Copeland allegedly said…”. Also, in August 2004 I submitted an early draft of this article to the Kenneth Copeland ministry and asked for their feedback. I have yet to receive a response.)

Why worry about doctrine anyway? Click HERE to see what the Bible says.

Introduction: So What’s The Big Deal?

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland teach some wonderful things: We must have confidence in God’s Word and obey it; we must resist the Devil; we should praise God, and boldly pray, and have faith; we should serve God and love others and give sacrificially. But the Copeland’s also have some dangerous teachings that are not only unbiblical, but unhealthy and even harmful.

I have no desire to slander a well-meaning ministry. But I believe the Copeland’s teaching is very flawed–so flawed that, if followed wholeheartedly, it can only lead to disappointment, frustration and disillusionment…or worse. That bothers me. The Bible is very clear that false teachings are harmful and should be exposed (in humility and love). But don’t take my word for it; turn to the Scriptures. I will quote a lot of Scripture in this article. Please click on the links so you can test what I am saying. God’s Word is more powerful than any words I can come up with.

The Copeland’s are leaders in what is commonly referred to as the Word of Faith Movement or the “Prosperity Gospel”, which (falsely) teaches that God’s will for believers is always prosperity, health, and victory—no matter what. When hard times hit (and they eventually do), what are we to make of them? Could it be that God has some sovereign reason for suffering, or that He uses it to teach us or to help us grow? Copeland says no! In Word Faith theology failure, sickness, and hardship are always attacks from Satan and are never God’s will.

Copeland is wrong. The Bible clearly tells us that sometimes it is actually God’s will that we suffer (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7).

Here are twelve reasons why I believe this teaching is very harmful, followed by a critique of three false promises of Copeland’s prosperity gospel:

What’s Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

1. Materialism keeps people out of heaven.
The Copeland’s tout the Gospel as a way to live “the good life” and claim wealth is a sign of spiritual maturity. Such a message appeals only to our sinful, selfish nature. True Christians are not to love the world or anything in the world (1 John 2:15). Jesus repeatedly warned that wealth can be dangerous to our souls (Luke 8:14; 12:15) and even keep us out of heaven (Matthew 19:21-24; Ephesians 5:5). Rather than indulging ourselves with material “blessings”, the true Christian message is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ, for “you cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

2. Lack of true peace.
Word of Faith preachers teach that God is just waiting to bless us. So if the believer isn’t experiencing “victory”, the problem must somehow be with the believer. This false teaching causes the believer to constantly strive harder, sacrifice harder, confess harder, and believe harder in order to achieve some mystical level of pure, unpolluted faith. The believer has no true peace until this “victory” is achieved.

In reality the Bible does NOT promise constant prosperity and victory (see below, False Promise #3: Victory and Success for Believers). Sometimes it is actually God’s will that we suffer (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7). The apostle Paul was able to proudly rejoice in his sufferings (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)! The mark of the true Christian is not freedom from suffering but peace in the midst of suffering (2 Thess. 3:16; Phil. 4:6-7; John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 8:6; 15:13; Heb. 12:11).

Despite what the Copeland’s say, pain and hardship need not shake our faith or rob us of our peace!

3. Unnecessary guilt and worry.
Copeland’s teaching makes God’s blessing conditional on our ability to strive and perform. On their website Gloria Copeland writes: “So our protection depends on our walking in fellowship with God and obedience to His Word.”6 and “Your security will be determined by how much time and attention you give to God and His Word in this life”.7 This is not only unbiblical (our security is in Christ, not our efforts), it is the exact opposite of grace! The Copeland’s also insist we must tame our tongues to secure God’s blessing,8 even though the Bible says that is impossible (James 3:8).

When suffering persists, Prosperity teaching actually creates doubt and worry (“What am I doing wrong?”; “When have I done enough?”) and destroys any real confidence in God’s sovereignty and mercy.

4. Unnecessary fear.
Anything negative, especially doubt, will supposedly cancel out your faith and short-circuit God’s blessing in your life. As a result, when hardships come the believer puts pressure on himself to do the impossible: to never have a negative thought. The result is bondage to a constant, superstitious fear of anything negative.

Actually, faith grows stronger if we ask questions and wrestle honestly with our doubts. The Bereans were commended for their healthy skepticism (Acts 17:11). We are to search for wisdom as for hidden treasure (Prov. 2:3-5) and test everything (1 Thess. 5:21).

Fear of anything negative shows how weak and fragile a person’s faith really is, and keeps it from growing stronger.

5. Emotional stress.
The Copeland’s teach that sadness, grief, anger, or frustration are signs of a lack of faith. According to Gloria Copeland, “If you are sad and depressed, that means you’re not believing God”9 . As a result, believers may stuff their true feelings and/or live in denial of them. This can create a host of unhealthy emotional and relational problems.

God knows our hearts better than we do (Psalm 44:21; Romans 8:27). When we mourn He does not shame us–He comforts us (Matthew. 5:4). He is “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3). He desires that we be open and honest with Him about our negative feelings (as David did in the Psalms) so that He can help us to deal with them and overcome them with His peace.

6. Avoidance of serious problems.
Likewise, some people may avoid properly dealing with their problems. Simply accepting life’s difficulties supposedly shows a lack of faith. So when problems arise some feel they must prove their faith by patiently waiting for the “victory” they have been promised. An extreme example of this would be parents who let their children die rather than take them to the doctor, because they are claiming God’s promises to heal and taking them to the doctor would show a sinful “lack of faith”. How tragic!

When problems arise, we are to face them prayerfully with responsibility and wisdom, and then trust God to work all things out for His good (Romans 8:28).

7. A false view of God.
In Prosperity teaching, you must never pray “…if it be Your will”. To consider the possibility of a “no” answer from God supposedly shows a lack of faith (even though both Jesus and Paul did so–Luke 22:42; Acts 18:21; also James 4:13-15). Apparently Copeland’s God is a fickle being who is swayed into holding back blessing simply by praying one wrong phrase (“if it be Your will”). Copeland also allegedly believes God is not all-powerful: “God cannot do anything for you apart or separate from faith”.10 Such a God is not the true God!

8. Raising man and lowering God.
Copeland says believers have the same authority as God: “You have obtained an inheritance, and in that inheritance you have been given all authority.”11 He also says our future is in our own hands: “With [God’s] truth we can set our course…for a life full of success”;12 “You are the prophet of your own life…Your words in your life decide your future”.13 Apparently it is ultimately up to us (not God) to decide what is good for us and what blessings we should have.

Copeland’s God is also weakened by humans because he cannot truly bless us without our believing prayers and confession. So the real power is in our ability to “release the power of faith”. We must have “faith in our faith”14.

The roles are reversed–in a sense we become the masters and God becomes the servant. Copeland allegedly wrote, “As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word”.15 This is a backward, man-centered theology and is outright blasphemy. God is the King, we are but humble servants (Luke 17:10). Copeland’s emphasis is (wrongly) on our ability to drum up enough faith, when instead the emphasis should be on Christ to lead us, provide for us, and empower us to serve Him as He sees fit.

9. A distorted prayer life.
Copeland teaches that just as there are laws of physics that control the power of electricity, there are also spiritual laws that control the power of faith. The secret to the the victorious Christian life is learning how to master these supposed “faith laws” through speaking and believing God’s promises. As a result prayer becomes a constant mantra of “taking authority” and “rebuking Satan” and “speaking faith” and “rebuking doubt”–none of which is a true interaction with God. Prayer sadly gets twisted into a magical, manipulative formula rather than a loving, trusting relationship with Jesus.

10. A false road to maturity.
For Copeland, spiritual maturity equals prosperity. The Bible says the opposite: spiritual maturity comes by persevering through trials (James 1:2-4). Jesus warned strongly against prosperity. Rather than strengthening our faith, wealth can actually choke it out (Luke 8:14), pull us away from God (Matt. 6:24) and even keep us out of heaven (Matt. 19:21-24; Eph. 5:5). “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24).

Instead of following after prosperity, we grow in maturity as we “put to death the desires of the flesh” (which includes greed–Col. 3:5) and take up our cross and follow Christ.

11. It promotes laziness and irresponsibility.
If simply claiming God’s promises entitles us to a life of victory, health, and wealth, then why bother with hard work, education, discipline, exercise, etc.? To the poor and uneducated his teachings may have the same appeal as the phony get-rich-quick philosophy promoted by lotteries, casinos, and other hucksters.

12. It is a trap that leads to disillusionment.
Tragedy and suffering strike everyone sooner or later. When they do, no amount of believing or giving tithes or rebuking the devil can get us out of them. Believers either become trapped in a constant cycle of striving and sacrificing until things improve, or they become bitter and disillusioned and leave Word of Faith teaching (and perhaps Christianity) altogether. Either way, the believer is kept from resting in the true inner peace and comfort that Christ promises in the midst of life’s tragedies.

GETTING SOME BALANCE

Copeland repeatedly bends Scripture to fit his beliefs rather than bending his beliefs to fit Scripture. Let me take three of Copeland’s biggest false promises and balance them with Scriptures that he usually (and conveniently) ignores:

False Promise #1: Financial Prosperity for Believers
The Copeland’s insist that true faith will bring the believer loads of money, despite a long list of Scriptures that teach otherwise. On their website Gloria Copeland writes:

“God’s will concerning financial prosperity and abundance is clearly revealed in the Scriptures”. 16

But what did Jesus teach about prosperity and abundance? While He never condemned money outright, He did warn us not to store up earthly treasure (Matt. 6:19) and preached that those who serve God must despise money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:15) because their hearts will be wherever their treasure is (Matt. 6:21). He said giving is better than receiving (Acts 20:35). He warned that wealth is deceitful and can choke out our faith (Matt. 13:5,22; Luke 8:14), and to be on guard against self-indulgence and greed in all its forms (Matthew 23:25; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 12:15). He preached woe to the wealthy (Luke 6:24) and said it is almost impossible for the rich to enter heaven (Matt. 19:21-24). Jesus commands all his followers to lay down their lives in self-denial (Matt. 16:24) and told a wealthy would-be disciple to sell all his possessions (Matt. 19:21-24). Jesus himself did not even have a bed to sleep on (Matt. 8:20).

Yet Kenneth and Gloria Copeland teach that if we shun wealth we are sinning against God:

“The man who holds to poverty rejects the establishment of the covenant. The man who holds to the covenant rejects poverty. Faith in the covenant pleases God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” 17 and (allegedly), “Poverty is an evil spirit”18 .

What about the Apostles–did they put a lot of emphasis on financial prosperity? Paul once described himself as “poor” and “having nothing” (2 Cor. 6:10). He wrote that a Christian must flee the desire to get rich (1 Tim. 6:10-11), because greed is idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5). We must purge every hint of greed from our lives (Eph. 5:3) and be content with whatever little we have (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6-8).

The desire to get rich is a trap that brings ruin, destruction, and all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:9-11). We are to have nothing to do with greedy people (Eph. 5:5-7). A true Christian leader must not be a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:2-3), and a greedy teacher may exploit his flock (2 Peter 2:3). Those who think godliness leads to financial gain have been corrupted (1 Tim. 6:5). A Christian must not focus his mind on earthly things (Col. 3:2) or love anything in the world (1 John 2:15-16). He must not pray for money to spend on pleasure (James 4:3), but rather be content with whatever little he has (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6-8). Being poor is a high position while being rich is a low position (James 1:9-10).

Nevertheless, the Copeland’s insist:

“Prosperity is a major requirement in the establishment of God’s will,” and “God’s will for His people today is abundance”19.

This is easy for them to say, because the Copeland’s themselves don’t really live by faith at all.

Instead they live lavishly off the donations of poor, struggling Christians who are “sowing” what little they have for the promise of “reaping a hundredfold blessing”20 . If the Copeland’s really believe giving reaps such an increase, shouldn’t they be giving away their own wealth? By asking for donations don’t they show a lack of faith?

False Promise #2: Health and Healing for Believers
On their website Gloria Copeland writes:

“[God’s Word is] so powerful it can cure every sickness and disease known to man. It has no dangerous side effects. It is safe even in massive doses. And when taken daily according to directions, it can prevent illness altogether and keep you in vibrant health.”21

Is this incredible claim really true? If so, are things like wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, and having surgery unnecessary or even sinful?

While God can and does heal, the Bible is clear that it is not His will in every situation. Paul suffered a “thorn in his flesh” which God refused to remove in order to keep Paul humble….and rather than chide himself for lack of faith, Paul rejoiced! (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God used an illness of Paul’s to bring the gospel to the Galatians (Gal. 4:13), and Paul probably suffered from poor eyesight (Gal. 6:11). Timothy was sick frequently (1 Tim. 5:23), but rather than telling Timothy to “claim a healing” or “rebuke the devil”, Paul simply instructs him to add wine to his diet (wine was used as a form of medicine). Paul also left a man named Trophimus sick in Miletus, without healing him (2 Tim. 4:20).

Pastor and author John MacArthur lists the three primary reasons why Christians get sick:

Some sicknesses are from God. “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11). God made the disabled and infirm. Babies are born every day with defects. Many children grow up with congenital deformities. Some people have illnesses that last for years. While it is unexplainable according to our human logic, it is all part of God’s sovereign, loving plan.

Some sicknesses are from Satan. (Luke 13:11-13). God may allow Satan to inflict illness for His own sovereign reasons. The classic example is Job (Job chapter 1).

Some sickness is God’s chastisement for sin. (Numbers 12; Deut. 28:20-22; 2 Kings 5). “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word” (Ps. 119:67)22

Other examples include God tormenting the Egyptians with skin boils (Ex. 9:8-12), inflicting King Jeroboam with leprosy (2 Kings 15:5), and striking Saul with blindness (Acts 9:1-19).

The Bible also tells us plainly that God disciplines the Church through sickness, hardship, and even death (1 Cor. 11:28-30; Heb. 12:7; Acts 5:1-11) and that we should joyfully accept trials “of many kinds” because God uses them to make us mature (James 1:2-4; Psalm 119:71,75). Clearly God allows and even causes sickness for His own sovereign purposes.

Yet Kenneth Copeland allegedly writes:

“Tradition has taught that God uses sickness, trials and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based on the Word of God. God HAS NEVER used sickness to discipline His children and keep them in line. Sickness is of the devil, and God doesn’t need the devil to straighten us out!”23

and on his website:

“God never inflicted anyone with disease or anything listed under the curse. SATAN WAS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN THE ONE WHO KILLS,  STEALS, AND DESTROYS (see John 10:10).” 24

Copeland is wrong, and he is on dangerous ground because He is taking the work of God and attributing it to Satan. That is blasphemy!

False Promise #3: Victory and Success for Believers
On their website Gloria Copeland writes,

“God’s prosperity isn’t just financial blessings. It also includes healing, protection, favor, wisdom, success, well-being and every good thing you could possibly need—all the good things Jesus paid for you to have.”25

and

“It just boils down to this: We have to live by faith and trust in God. In Him we have already been delivered from the whole curse. We’re protected from danger, sickness, lack or any other bad thing that’s under the curse. God promised us in Psalm 91, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect
those who trust in my name’ (verse 14, New Living Translation).”26

Despite what Copeland says, the Bible is very clear that following Christ does not lead to an easier life, but rather to an increase in hardship.

Jesus said that we are actually blessed not through victory and success but through mourning, persecution, insults, poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred and rejection (Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23; John 15:18-20). He said that those who follow Him may see their family members become their enemies (Matt. 10:34-36; Luke 14:25-26), and that the world would hate them (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18). All who follow Jesus must give up everything (Luke 14:33) and deny themselves and take up a cross (Matt. 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23), which means embracing an instrument of torture and death.

Throughout the book of Acts the disciples were persecuted, hauled into courts, threatened, imprisoned, beaten, flogged, stoned to death and put to the sword. They faced riots and mobs. False witnesses were brought against them. They were scattered from their homes (Acts 8:1) and some believers even had their property confiscated (Heb. 10:34).

At one point Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 24:27). According to 1 Cor. 4:9-13, he and his companions suffered hunger and thirst, their clothing was reduced to rags, they were brutally treated, they were homeless, cursed, persecuted, slandered, and they compared themselves to scum and refuse. They was “hard-pressed”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, “struck down”, and “always given over to death” (2 Cor. 4:8-11). They faced troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, hunger, dishonor, bad report, beatings, sorrow, and poverty. (2 Cor. 6:4-10). Paul himself was chained and imprisoned frequently, flogged five times, beaten with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, and was constantly on the move from danger. Cold and naked, he sometimes went without food, water or sleep. (2 Cor. 11:23-27) At one point in his ministry everyone deserted him (2 Tim. 4:16), and at another time the pressure and despair was so great that he no longer wanted to live (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

Yet Copeland writes:

“The only suffering we encounter in sharing His victory is spiritual. That’s what the Word is talking about when it says we are to be partakers of Christ’s suffering. In other words, the only suffering for a believer is the spiritual discomfort brought by resisting the pressures of the flesh, not a
physical or mental suffering. Jesus has already borne for us all the suffering in the natural and mental realms. . .That’s why it’s to God’s glory when we are healed or delivered physically and mentally, for we only have to fight in the spirit realm.”27

Apparently Paul just never learned how speak to victory into his life. Are we to assume Copeland is a stronger man of faith than Paul was?

Hardly. Paul understood the essential Christian doctrine of self-denial. He was willing to take up his cross, put to death his sinful nature, and face persecution and death daily as a bondslave of Christ and for the benefit of others. Yet this crucial Christian concept is strangely absent in Copeland’s prosperity teaching.

Hebrews 11:35-39 describes men of God who were tortured, jeered at, flogged, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, and put to death by the sword. They wore sheepskins and goatskins and wandered the deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground. The were destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. The Copelands would say these were people of weak faith, but verse 39 says they were commended for their faith!

The Blessings of Suffering, Sickness, and Hardship

Suffering can be a blessing (Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:14). Christians should not be surprised at suffering (1 Peter 4:12; 1 John 3:13; 1 Thess. 3:3-4; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:4) but embrace it joyfully (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:13). Godliness and suffering go hand in hand (2 Tim. 3:12). Sometimes suffering is actually God’s will (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7) and He uses it to bring about many positive results, such as:

A greater dependance on God (2 Cor. 1:9; 12:7-10)
Joy (Matt. 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Col. 1:24; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Peter 4:13; Heb. 10:34; James 1:2-4)
Patience (2 Cor. 1:6; James 5:10; Rev. 1:9)
Courage (Matt. 10:28; Phil. 1:28; 1 Thess. 2:2; Rev. 2:10)
Freedom from Shame (2 Tim. 1:8,12; 1 Peter 4:16)
Perseverance/Endurance (Rom. 5:3; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:5; Heb. 10:32,36; 12:7; James 1:2-4,12; 1 Peter 4:19; Rev. 1:9, 2:3,10,13)
Character (Rom. 5:3-4)
Hope(Rom. 5:3-4)
A harvest of righteousness and peace (Heb. 12:11)
Closeness to Jesus and a longing for heaven (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 11:26,35; 12:2-3; 13:13; 1 Peter 4:1; Rev. 21:4)
Thankfulness (1 Thess. 5:18)
Blessing and Kindness (1 Cor. 4:12-13)
Gentleness and Respect (1 Peter 3:14-17)
Opportunities to show forgiveness to others (Matt. 5:39-45; 2 Tim. 4:16)
Blessings and Comfort for others (1 Cor. 12:25-26; 2 Cor. 1:3-7; 8:2-4; Eph. 3:13; Phil. 1:14; Col. 1:24; 1 Thess. 3:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:8-10; Heb. 13:3)

Rather than being a sign of “lack of faith”, suffering can be one of the greatest tools God uses for strengthening our faith, and a sign that we are indeed living according to His will!

Yet on his website Kenneth Copeland writes:

“Over the years, this unscriptural doctrine of suffering for God by submitting to such works of the devil as sickness, lack and oppression has become a veritable sacred cow. But it’s time we knocked that cow in the head.”28

One has to wonder if Copeland is even reading the same Bible as the rest of us.

Blessed by God?

Does God desire to bless us? Absolutely!!! But the greatest blessings of God are not the things this world admires, for “what is highly esteemed among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).

We are blessed through suffering and persecution (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:14). We are blessed through being meek and pure in heart, through showing mercy and making peace (Matt. 5:1-10). We are blessed through faithful devotion to Christ (Matt. 11:6) and in understanding who Christ really is (Matt. 16:17). We are blessed by giving to others (Acts 20:35) and by helping the hungry, lonely, naked, sick, imprisoned, poor, crippled, lame and blind (Matt. 25:34-36; Luke 14:13-14). We are blessed by obeying the word of God (Luke 11:28; John 13:17; James 1:25) and by persevering through trials (James 1:12; 5:11). We are blessed by believing in Christ (John 20:29) and through repentance (Acts 3:26). We are blessed through the forgiveness Christ purchased for us on the cross (Rom. 4:6-8) and the hope of eternal life (Titus 2:13; Rev. 20:6)

Conclusion

There are good reasons why the Bible commands us to “test everything” and “preserve sound doctrine”, and warns us repeatedly about false teachers. While the Copeland’s have some good things to say, we must remember that Satan does not feed us poison outright— he hides it in the meat.

Whether they mean to or not, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland mislead people with false promises. Their supposed “life of victory” ultimately breeds guilt, fear, confusion, worry, disillusionment, and lack of true peace.

They keep people from dealing properly with the struggles of life. They present a false view of God, give man control of his own destiny, and attribute some of God’s work to Satan. They turn prayer into manipulation. They lead people to put their faith in the wrong thing and then prevent that faith from truly growing stronger.

They preach a gospel of materialism instead of self-denial, and make it harder for people to learn what God wants to teach them through suffering. Their theology is sloppy and they are misleading many for their own financial gain.

For all of this the Copeland’s must be held accountable. God holds teachers and prophets to very high standards (James 3:1; Deut. 18:20), and so should we.

Footnotes:
(KCM is short for Kenneth Copeland Ministries)

http://www.cedricstudio.com/personal/copeland.html

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Cultic Renewal of Indulgences

By J. Danny Hone

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Perhaps there is no greater perversion within the modern Charismatic movement than the perversions surrounding money and its doctrine of seed faith and the hundred fold return. In this article I do not want to discuss the flaws of the prosperity gospel but rather a greater evil. An evil similar to the one that existed within the church 500 years ago. An evil that prompted Martin Luther to nail his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg Germany on October 31st, 1517. An evil that led to a reformation, from which grew the Protestant church.

At the time there were serious abuses within the church. The large administrative structure of the church required a great deal of money to finance it. To obtain this money, the church used many devices that hurt its spiritual nature. During this same time of great need within the church some clergy lived like secular princes, building lavish palaces and indulging in corrupt financial practices. In order to do just that Pope Leo X sent out indulgence peddlers who had been granted by papal power to grant remission of sins according to the amount of money given. Among these peddlers was a man named Johann Tetzel. He began selling “indulgences” in Germany in 1517. Tetzel declared that anyone who bought an indulgence could choose a soul to be freed from purgatory, or shorten his own term in purgatory. He told buyers: “When the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

While Luther had other concerns about papal abuse it was the selling of indulgences that prompted him to hold a public debate on the matter. In those days on holidays, such as All Saints Day, it was customary to hold public debates. The subject of the debates were announced by nailing them to the church door. So on October 31st, 1517 Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door little knowing that the can of worms he opened would split the church down the middle and usher in the reformation and with it Protestantism.

The indulgences of old promised that God would pardon people’s sins in exchange for a gift to the church. The indulgences sold today promise a return by God of up to one hundred fold with every gift. At the heart of the matter of the selling of indulgences is the question as to whether God’s favor can be bought or sold. Luther held to the belief that God’s benefits were not for sale.

“Every true Christian, be he still alive or already dead, partaketh in all benefits of Christ and of the Church given him by God, even without letters of indulgence.” (1)

God’s love, favor and blessings to us is based solely on God’s attributes of kindness and grace towards us and not on the works we perform. God’s blessings can not be bought or sold. Those who pretend to do so are involved in a great heresy. They, like Pope Leo X, do so to maintain their “luxurious life of worldliness, and pay for the remodeling of the great Cathedral.” Today our churches build magnificent buildings which stand not for the glory of God but for the praise of men. Many ministers live luxurious lives at the expense of the people. The seed faith teaching is nothing more than heresy against God preached solely as a means to appeal to the greed within others so that ministries can build greater buildings and so it’s founders can live in greater wealth.

In perhaps his boldest Theses, Luther asked:

“Again, why does not the Pope build St. Peter’s Minster with his own money since his riches are now more ample than those of Crassus, rather than with the money of poor Christians?” (2)

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

“Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” (3)

“Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (4)

Luther asked the question: “If you, being the man of God, claim to have the heart of God, then why are you taking from the resources of the people for your own unjust gain, instead of, as the Apostle Paul, working night and day so as not to be a burden to the people?”

Luther’s question rings loud today. Perhaps the marking of a true man of God is a person’s beholding to this same attitude as Paul. True ministers of the church are the parents of the church. They do not bleed from the meager resources of the children to fulfill their own lustful desires. True ministers are not in it for themselves. They are moved to win the lost at any cost. Selfishness and greed have become the cornerstone of the modern Charismatic and Word of Faith (WOF) movement. This must cease if we are to be about our Father’s business.

In time Luther’s actions brought him before the diet in Worms, Germany where he was ordered to recant what he had said and written. Luther responded:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise.” (5)

Shortly after this famous speech the emperor signed the Edict of Worms, which declared Luther an outlaw and pardoned from punishment anyone who would kill him.

Luther took a stand on a biblical principle he held to be true. God’s favor can not be bought or sold. Like Tetzel of old many modern preachers, mostly within the Charismatic movement and the WOF movement, in their greed and lust to build bigger buildings and bigger ministries have been selling God’s favor using catchy phrases and twisted scriptures.

Most of the perversions fall under the terms of “seed faith” or “hundred fold return” teachings. The seed faith doctrine was made popular by Oral Roberts. Oral uses the phrase: “Have a need? Plant a seed!”. According to Oral: “God himself has established the law of sowing and reaping, of giving and receiving. Under the New Covenant you can make every act of giving a seed planted which brings you into the SEED-FAITH lifestyle of sowing and reaping which I have been led to call ‘A Blessing-Pact Covenant with God.'” (6)

What is SEED-FAITH and why is it a renewed selling of indulgences? Oral teaches: “The seed of giving is the seed of faith! And the seed has to be planted BEFORE we can speak to our mountain of need to be removed!” (7)

The doctrine of seed faith is giving to a need and expecting from God a return on that gift. Many even teach that you should name your seed before you plant it. They encourage you to put an amount of money into their offering and claim something in return, like your uncle’s salvation or a miracle debt reduction. If you need a healing, plant a seed. If you need more money, plant a seed. How strangely similar to the selling of indulgences.

In many WOF services the “man of God” claims a special word from God that goes something like this: “Before coming to this meeting tonight I was praying in the Holy Ghost in my room and the Spirit of the Lord came on me strongly and revealed to me that there are many people here tonight that are in debt to the point that creditors are calling you up. Some of you have been paying late charges that should be going to advance the kingdom of God. God has told me today that if you obey him this night and plant a seed in faith of $100.00 God is going to get involved and your debt situation will be miraculously turned around! God will rebuke the devourer, and the cankerworm that has eaten holes in your pockets is being destroyed tonight as you give! In Jesus name!”

With promises like that how can one afford not to give! The WOF movement may not be guilty of claiming salvation in exchange for money but it sure does promise everything else in exchange for your giving.

As I was beginning to question the teachings of the WOF movement God brought a book across my path titled “From Ashes to Gold” by Patti Roberts. Knowing that Patti was the first wife of Richard Roberts and that they had a very public ministry before their very public divorce I thought I would read it. She gives the following reflections on the seed money teachings they preached:

“The seed-faith theology that Oral had developed bothered me a great deal because I saw that, when taken to its natural extremes, it reduced God to a sugar daddy. If you wanted His blessings and His love, you paid Him off. Over and over again we heard Oral say, ‘Give out of your need.’ I began to question the motivation that kind of giving implied. Were we giving to God out of our love and gratitude to Him or were we bartering with Him?” (8)

Patti goes on to write:

“The distinction may appear to be too subtle and I know Oral thought I was splitting hairs, but it seemed supremely important to me. If we give to God because we think that by giving we have somehow placed Him in our debt and He is now required to come through for us and meet our needs, we have, I believe, perverted the heart of the gospel. Our only motive for giving should be love. When we encourage people to give in order to have their needs met or so that they will receive “a hundred fold return” I believe we are appealing to their sense of greed or desperation, neither of which seemed admirable to me. It was a wonderful fund-raising tool, but I believe it gave people a very unbalanced view of a very important biblical principle. At the time I was taking a humanities course from the university and my professor was discussing Martin Luther and the Reformation. When we started looking at the abuses in the Catholic church that Luther had wanted to reform, I began to see parallels in our situation. Luther was incensed by the church’s practice of selling indulgences – offering forgiveness of sin and a shorter period of time in purgatory in return for gifts to the church. I had a very difficult time distinguishing between the selling of indulgences and the concept of Seed Faith inflated to the degree to which we had inflated it. Of course, Oral was more subtle. He never promised salvation in exchange for gifts to his ministry, but there were still many people who believed that God was going to look at them in a kindlier way and perhaps that son would get off drugs or they would get their drunken husband into heaven if they gave money to Oral Roberts.” (9)

How close is Seed-Faith to the selling of indulgences? Oral writes: “You know, I sometimes think we have put more faith in a coke machine than we do in God. When you put your coin in the machine you have a contract or covenant with the coke company and the maker of the dispensing machine. Therefore, the moment you put your coin in, you reach down expecting the can to come into your hand. Well, you have a contract or covenant with One greater than a coke machine. When you put in your SEED-FAITH you are to reach out your faith not to men, but to Jesus, expecting to receive more surely from Him than you do from the coke machine.” (10)

Consider also this appeal for money: “If you’re broke, if you’re at your wit’s end, if you’re out of a job, out of work, let me tell ya. Not only are we gonna bless the world and preach Christ to millions and multitudes around the world, but you can be saved, yourself, by planting seed in this fertile soil called TBN.” (11)

Any appeal for money that promises you something from God in return is not true biblical giving and is a perversion of the Gospel. It is a heresy liken unto the selling of indulgences and as Luther drew the line, we too, must draw the line. Salvation, God, and His benefits are not for sale.

Perhaps the greatest dangers of the seed faith theology is not in its similarities to Tetzel’s selling of indulgences but its similarities to the metaphysical cults, specifically the Unity School of Christianity. At least one of Oral Roberts’ devotionals from his “Guide to Seed-Faith Living” came from the Unity School of Christianity. (12)

The Unity School of Christianity was founded by Charles Fillmore in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri. So the teachings of seed money were not invented by WOF founders but adopted from the cults.

I picked up a book at a rummage sale titled “Seed Money In Action” by Jon P. Speller. It was included in a box full of Charismatic books from the 70’s. At the time I was still involved in a WOF church and had on occasion planted seed money. I briefly thumbed through the book and put it on the shelf next to my John Avanzini and other seed faith books. When I began to question the seed money theology I went to my seed faith books to examine them closer. I picked up this book and began to read those first pages we always skip where the credits are listed. I was shocked to discover in the preface the following credits:

“The Rev. Dr. Henry M. Ellis, who unlocked the secrets of the Scriptures in his ‘BIBLE SCIENCE: THE TRUTH AND THE WAY'”

“Dr. Henry A. Carns, President of The College of Divine Metaphysics, who had added dimensions to the Study of Life and the Word”

“Mrs. Claire Waters, Teacher at the Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York, a perfect teacher of Truth”

“The Rev. Dr. David N. Moore, a Minister and Practitioner who daily demonstrates his inspiringly high Consciousness” (13)

I had been indoctrinated and influenced by the kingdom of the cults! How could popular Metaphysical cultic teachings have penetrated the WOF movement? The answer I soon discovered is that it didn’t. The WOF was deeply rooted and birthed in the cults because of the Kenyon connection. (For deeper insight into E.W. Kenyon and his cultic origins I recommend “A Different Gospel” by D.R. McConnell.) Kenyon’s teachings have been referred to as “nothing more than as Pentecostal Christian Science” by people who knew him intimately and at one time considered him a mentor.

The practice of seed money is simple. If you plant a kernel of corn you reap two ears full of kernels. So it is said to be with money. If you sow money into good ground (ministries ordained of God) you will receive a return on your giving. So the more you give the more you get. This brings us to the hundred fold teachings made popular by Copeland’s ministry: “You give $1 for the Gospel’s sake and $100 belongs to you. Give $10 and receive $1000. Give $1000 and receive $100,000. I know that you can multipy, but I want you to see it in black and white and see how tremendous the hundred fold return is. Give one house and receive one hundred houses or one house worth one hundred times as much. Give one airplane and receive one hundred times the value of the airplane. Give one car and the return would furnish you a lifetime of cars. In short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.” (14)

One can only wonder why Gloria omits the biggest part of the hundred fold return (“brothers, sisters, mothers and children”). To carry out her interpretation of the hundred fold return we can receive a hundred brothers, sisters, mothers and children for each one we give away.

One need only to stop and think about the implications of the hundred fold theology to realize the true falsehoods of such claims. If the law of hundred fold return were true all these ministries would have to do is give away a few thousand dollars and all their financial needs should be met. Instead of them receiving our money they would be knocking down doors to give so that God would bless them one hundred fold. Think of it! Every believer would live in mansions, all poverty would be wiped out and the church would never have lack again.

The danger of the hundredfold return theology is that it appeals to the greed within all of us and paints the wrong picture of God. Instead of God being a loving and giving God towards us He is reduced to a being who must be bribed or otherwise motivated to act kindly on our behalf.

In the book, “The Agony of Deceit”, Joel Nederhood writes that “whenever a religious leader or a church comes up with a scheme that confuses salvation with some kind of monetary payment, you have the worst kind of dishonesty. That is like trying to sell something that is not yours to sell. It is like trying to sell something again that has already been sold and paid for. It is a scam. It’s trickery. It’s self-serving thievery.” (15)

Paul warns us concerning the quest for wealth in the church when he writes: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (16)

Consider these words from Christ:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? . . . And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (17)

Did you notice any difference between Christ’s preaching and that commonly heard in WOF circles today? Christ is very clear that if we seek first God’s kingdom God will take care of us. Notice his comments on sowing and reaping. One could only wonder if Christ was looking 2,000 years into the future and speaking against the theology of sowing and reaping today. Hey, the birds don’t sow or reap and yet God takes care of them. Are you not worth more to God than a bird? I think so. God’s faithfulness does not rest on our works but rather on His grace. His provisions toward us have more to do with His faithfulness than with our works. Otherwise, God is just a powerforce, and we are the vessels of power. It would not be God’s faithfulness that benefits us but rather our works. Contrary to the teachings of the WOF movement our lack of faith does not nullify God’s faithfulness! (See Romans 3:3) This is the fundamental truth for which Luther took a stand. God’s mercy, God’s provision and God’s faithfulness toward us can not be bought or sold. When Simeon tried to buy a gift from God, Peter responded: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right with God.” (18)

As shocking as it may seem, there are just some things money can’t buy. God is one of them. He is not for sale. Sadly, today it appears that many ministers have more of the character of Simeon than they do of Peter.

When we give to get in return the heart of giving is changed. That which the Bible teaches should be done in selflessness is done in selfishness. Thus the heart of our giving is changed and with it the purpose. When we give to others solely out of a need to better ourselves we have missed the purpose God established in our giving. Giving to the poor or to the church is not about planting a seed and reaping a hundred fold in this life, it is about helping our brother in need. It is about love. True biblical love. An unselfish love that gives and expects nothing in return.

When the church budget becomes so big that you have to drain the resources of the people to keep the building afloat you have missed the heart of God. Better that you sell the building and meet in a tent than that you bleed your congregation of their resources. Contrary to popular opinion, he who dies with the biggest church does not win. When the church building and its maintenance become a bigger priority than the well-being of the people you have missed the heart of God. When you preach more to gain an offering than you do to win a soul you have missed the heart of God. When the extent of your ministry centers around the extent of your gain you have missed the heart of God. When you rejoice more in a large offering than you do in a changed person you have missed the heart of God. True Christianity is not about what others can do for you but about what you can do for others.

In his Theses Luther brings out some excellent points regarding the importance of charity. Consider these Theses of Luther:

“Christians should be taught, he who gives to the poor, or lends to a needy man, does better than buying indulgences.” (19)

“Christians should be taught, he who sees his neighbor in distress, and, nevertheless, buys indulgences, is not partaking in the Pope’s pardons, but in the anger of God.” (20)

“Christians should be taught, unless they are rich enough, it is their duty to keep what is necessary for the use of their households, and by no means throw it away on indulgences.” (21)

“Wrong is done to the word of God if one in the same sermon spends as much or more time on indulgences as on the word of the Gospel.” (22)

“Therefore, the treasures of the Gospel are nets, with which, in times of yore, one fished for the men of Mammon. But the treasures of indulgence are nets, with which now-a-days one fishes for the Mammon of men.” (23)

It is unquestionable that a type of selling of indulgences has penetrated the church once again. During a recent TBN telethon a prophecy went out that if viewers would sow a seed of $2,000 into TBN God would get them out of debt, most within 90 days. At one point they were bold enough to say that this telethon wasn’t even for TBN’s needs. It was for God’s people, so that as they give they could be set free of their debts. The most shocking statement made came on Sunday morning (4-5-98) at 9:05 EST. The guest minister pointed at his televison audience and said: “Some of you have been reaping from this ministry without a single thought of sowing back into it. When you sow into this ministry you are sowing into the Spirit of Galations that says that when you sow into the Spirit you will reap eternal life.”

My friends, this is heresy. It is the selling of indulgences. It is an insult to all that Jesus came to do. It is a different gospel. Many, in the name of Christ, are seeking once again after the Mammon of men instead of the men of Mammon. Greed and selfishness exist from the least to the greatest. The grace of giving has been recreated into an art of investing. In the pursuit for money the gospel of salvation has been exchanged for a gospel of finances. As a result the moral structure of our church and community is slowly decaying away as the church focuses more on wealth than it does on righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. The cries to win the lost have faded as the pleas for offerings are sounded from the roof tops.

It was Christ who sternly warned us to . . . “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed: A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (24)

Paul also warned that among us there must not even be a hint of greed. (25) Peter warned us too when he wrote: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have invented. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (26)

Truly God’s people need to be a giving people. But let us return to giving from a pure heart and not from a motivation of greed. The heresy that has been accepted in the church needs to be repented of and not tolerated. Just as Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door nearly 500 years ago we too must take a stand for righteousness. The selling of indulgences can not be tolerated in the name of Christianity, for neither God, salvation, nor His benefits are for sale. “Every true Christian, be he still alive or already dead, partaketh in all the benefits of Christ and of the Church given him by God, even without letters of indulgence.” (27)

Footnotes

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Word of Faith Healing Promises

Another entire category of defective doctrines stemming from the Word of Faith movement are those doctrines concerning the guarantee of physical health.

While most Christians believe God is capable of healing- and does heal, the WOF doctrine teaches that healing is a divine right of every believer in Christ; from the simple headache to heart disease, all are to be healed in the life of a Christian. In fact, the essence of the teaching is that a believer living rightly will not even encounter sickness and disease. If one does, it is the fault of the believer himself, for God has granted the ability for each believer to be free from such physical limitations.

Sickness does not belong to you. It has no part in the Body of Christ. Sickness does not belong to any of us. The Bible declares if the Word of God is in our life, there will be health, there will be healing – divine health and divine healing. There will be no sickness for the saint of God. If Moses could live such a healthy life, so can you… He promises to heal all – every one, any, any whatsoever, everything – all our diseases! That means not even a headache, sinus problem, not even a toothache – nothing! No sickness should come your way.
Benny Hinn (Rise & Be Healed!, p. 14, 32)

The source of this doctrine is noted to come from two sources; the Bible itself, and the workings of one’s exercise of his “word of faith.”

Scriptural Healing according to WOF

As to the scriptural evidence of their doctrines, the most proclaimed passage supposing to teach that healing belongs to every believer is found in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Normally, using the KJV version of verse 5b, “by his stripes we are healed,” the WOF teacher asserts “healing” as a foundational element of the atonement of Christ. We are healed, they say, by the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

There is no debate that Isaiah 53 speaks of the coming Messiah, Jesus, nor is there any debate whether healing is fundamentally established in his atoning work. The issue which must be addressed, however, is the definition of the term “healing” in Isaiah 53.

Healing is clearly established in the text. Verse 4 notes, “he took up our infirmities.” “Infirmities” comes from the Hebrew term, h?olî (kho-lee’), which can refer to sickness or calamity. The term “healed” in verse 5 comes from Hebrew, r?p?? (ra-fah’), which means healed or repaired. The question that needs to be answered is, “healed from what?” The answer, of course, is found in the context of the passage.

If one had a conversation concerning his athlete’s foot problem and noted that he had “been healed” by a certain product which was used, another would not for the reason of the statement “I’ve been healed” think that the person had unilaterally received healing from a cold which he may have had at the same time. The context of the reported healing is the limit of what the term was intended to refer to. Stated another way: if you’re discussing athletes foot and note that you’ve been healed, one would not presume you to also mean that you were healed of all other ailments. You were healed only from the ailment which you referred to within your context.

The context of Isaiah 53 specifically notes a healing or a cure of a specific item from its context. That item is sin. The healing of Isaiah 53 is painfully obvious to one who takes time to read and understand the text!

Isaiah makes four statements. Each statement is a parallel of the others. And, each statement contains the exact same subject matter.

He states in verse 5 a singular truth, using parallelism. Part one of the parallel notes that Jesus paid for our sins. Part two of the parallel stipulates that by his payment, we are free, or “healed.”

§ Jesus paid for our sins:

· “He was pierced for our transgressions”

· “He was crushed for our iniquities”

§ Because of his payment, we are free:

· “The punishment that brought us peace is upon him”

· “By his wounds we are healed.”

The entire context of this text relates to sin and Jesus’ coming atonement for sin. Other than the use of the term “healed,” there is nothing in the text which would make one consider sickness to be an element of what Jesus was to do for mankind. However the term “healed” does not merely refer to sickness. One can be healed from a broken bone. One can be healed from an oppression. Likewise, one can be healed spiritually, as Isaiah 53 speaks of.

Hebrew parallelism is a poetic device whereby a statement is made twice to reaffirm its meaning in verse. In this parallel, “pierced” is equated with “crushed,” “transgressions” is equated with “iniquities,” “punishment” is equated with “wounds,” and “peace” is equated with “healed.”

The healing in the text speaks nothing about earthly illness, but rather a healing from the penalties of sin. Verse 6 confirms the context as it notes,

Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

There is no question concerning Isaiah 53’s intended meaning to one who practices legitimate biblical interpretive method. In fact, in order to get the idea of “healing from sicknesses” from Isaiah 53, one must deliberately misrepresent the text to an audience which is ill-equipped to interpret it for themselves. Isaiah 53 tells one dynamic story from beginning to end: Messiah would come and pay the penalty of man’s sin, as verse 12 concludes the matter,

Isaiah 53:12 (NIV)
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus “bore the sin” of the world and made “intercession” for transgressors. The “healing” noted in verse 5 was a healing from sin. The healing was spiritual in nature, not physical. In fact, the penalty of sin is death. It has been death from the very beginning. God did not say to Adam and Eve “the day you eat of it you will surely get sick,” but “the day you eat of it you will surely die.” If this healing of sin were to be understood as physical in nature in Isaiah 53, one would expect that men would stop experiencing physical death! But they do not- because Isaiah 53 speaks of the healing of man’s spiritual condition. He is healed from sin, being given a substitutionary atonement through the stripes of Christ’s vicarious suffering.

Yet, according to WOF teachers, it is physical healing which Isaiah 53 speaks, and that healing is inherently available to all believers through the suffering of Christ on the cross. If you are a believer, then you have healing at your disposal.

“Salvation and healing are two gifts wrapped up in the same package. For God, healing is just as important and necessary as Salvation.”?Rod Parsley (The Backside Of Calvary, Results Publishing, Columbus, OH, 1991, p. 55)

The “package” Parsley speaks of is that of atonement. He believes that the blood which brought spiritual restoration to mankind also brought healing to the bodies of believers in this lifetime.

Scripture does teach that all believers will receive a new, glorified body which will never get sick and die. But, scripture teaches that the reception of that body is upon the believer’s resurrection from this life, rather than upon one’s salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (NIV)
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

According to Paul, mortality is the nature of the bodies in which we live. To that end, one must understand that the penalty of sin given at the garden of Eden, “the day you eat of it you will surely die,” is something which will endure until that time when one receives the immortal body. Sickness and death came together into existence in a package deal. Sickness is the state of this human body.

To that end, one can say that Christ’s atonement will bring healing upon the completion of one’s life on earth. However, Isaiah 53 speaks nothing of the sort, but refers uniquely of the atonement for sin.

In the end, however, scripture is unnecessary for a WOF teacher to proclaim universal healing, for in their doctrine, whatever one wants, in fact, is accessible by one’s proclamation of one’s word of faith.

Claiming” healing using the word of faith

The second way, then, one receives whatever one wants, it so use one’s inherent abilities via the force of faith to achieve one’s goals. If you don’t have what you think you need, such as healing, according to the WOF teacher, you can speak your creation into existence!

“Say to your body, ‘You’re whole, body! Why, you just function so beautifully and so well. Why, body, you never have any problems. You’re a strong, healthy body.’ Or speak to your leg, or speak to your foot, or speak to your neck, or speak to your back; and once you have spoken and believe that you have received, and don’t go back on it. Speak to your wife, speak to your husband, speak to your circumstances; and speak faith to them to create in them and God will create what you are speaking.”?
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape, #186, side 2)

Hickey uses the exact same formula she uses for wealth, which will be examined in the next section. If you lack wealth, you speak to your wallet! If you lack healing, according to Hickey, you simply “speak to your circumstances.”

Likewise, WOF teachers teach the opposite formula is also true. If one claims to have a headache, for example, that headache will never leave! It is prolonged by the very “word of faith” which claims it to exist.

“The believer should never die before the age of 70. That is the minimum and then they should live to be 120 years. This is done by faith words If you keep talking death, that is what you are going to have. If you keep talking sickness and disease, that is what you are going to have, because you are going to create the reality of them with your own mouth. That is a divine law.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (Realm, 29)

Price contends that if one speaks of sickness and disease, “that is what you are going to have, because you are going to create the reality of them with your own mouth.” When all else fails, these teachers will go back to the rudiments of their theology and put the “word of faith” back in control of their circumstances; in spite of what scripture teaches on a subject. Whether healing, power or cold hard cash, the confession of one’s mouth is the end-all source of receiving according to this doctrine.

Even America’s star, Joel Osteen, has endorsed this bandwagon approach to doctrine.

“Start calling in divine health….You may have sickness in your body; you need to call in health. Words are like seeds; they have creative power.”
Joel Osteen (”Speaking Faith Filled Words”, Tape # 223, 2004)

Suffice it to say, that once one has endorsed the root premise concerning the “word of faith,” one can then assume anything he desires as attainable. In such cases, has not man become God himself? Is it not man, with this powerful force indeed in charge of his own destiny? Is man now God incarnate? This is indeed the synopsis of the WOF teaching.

“As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word.”
Kenneth Copeland (Our Covenant with God, 1987, p. 32)

“Yes! You are in control! So, if man has control, who no longer has it? God.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (”Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is … and How to Pray?” The Word Study Bible, 1990 p. 1178)

This leads to the most tragic of all possible doctrines regarding the physical healing of believers. For, according to the WOF teachers, your healing is entirely up to you! If you are not healed, then, there is a problem with your faith and it is entirely your own fault!

“The Bible declares that the work was done 2,000 years ago. God is not going to heal you now — he healed you 2,000 years ago. All you have to do today is receive your healing by faith”
Benny Hinn (Rise and Be Healed, p. 44).

“Sometimes people won’t receive their healing. Sometimes they’re full of fear or doubt or unbelief, and they can’t take what God is giving them.”
Kenneth Copeland (”Believer’s Voice Of Victory”, October 1999, pg. 23).

Thus, it is your faith which heals you. If you are not healed it is because of your own lack of faith. And, in that case, according to Fred Price, you are choosing to live in a body which is unfitting for God’s use!

“How can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn’t function right? How can you glorify God? How can He get glory when your body doesn’t even work? What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can’t see out through the windows and He can’t hear with the ears? What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right?”
Fredrick K.C. Price (”Is God Glorified Through Sickness?” audiotape #FP605)

As offensive as it sounds, any doctrine which establishes fully that God will heal any sick person if they have enough faith, or if they ask correctly or if any other number of human-initiated scenarios is done “properly,” is a doctrine which makes the believer ultimately at fault for their own sicknesses.

How would one explain this truth to Joni Ericson Tada, Tony Melendez or any of thousands of believers who serve God faithfully in spite of a debilitating illness or injury? Is God not using their ministry? According to Price, the Holy Spirit would not want to live inside a body that does not function right! Does this, then, eliminate the possibility of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for sick or injured people?

Luckily, a voice much louder, thoroughly tested and approved than the voices of Price, Copeland, Hinn, Osteen and all other human teachers exists to us in scripture itself.

A Biblical Example of non-healing

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul notes the receiving of a “thorn in the flesh.” Paul clearly does not speak of a literal thorn, but a metaphorical one. He had an ailment of some sort. He notes this ailment to stem from a “messenger of Satan, to torment me.” “Messenger” is in fact the Greek term, angelos, which is frequently rendered “angel,” depending on the context. If a person sends an angelos to another, the term is usually rendered “messenger.” Yet, for this messenger to be from Satan, it could rightly be understood to represent a demonic affliction of illness, which is a biblical occurrence in several cases. (Matthew 12:22) While this is problematic for some, scripture teaches that God does allow demonic affliction at times, such as Job’s illnesses. Job was a righteous man, yet God allowed Satan to inflict his body with very painful sores. Paul, it appears, had such an illness, himself. It was a physical infirmity of some type, which he noted as coming from a messenger of Satan.

What is fascinating about Paul’s illness is that God chose to allow Paul to suffer with his ailment rather than healing him from it! This is clearly in denial of the WOF teaching that healing is a God-given right for every believer. In fact, God refused to heal Paul based on the premise that Paul could better serve God with his affliction! He stated, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Translation? God wanted Paul to have this particular ailment! For starters, Satan would have had to have obtained permission to afflict Paul, a believer (Luke 22:21, Job 1:8-12; 2:3-6), but more importantly, God indicated that even Paul’s affliction was something He (God) desired. As Paul notes, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Contrary to Fred Price’s false report, scripture teaches that God is actually glorified when a believer endures sickness or bodily malfunction by depending on Christ’s power to achieve that which their less than perfect bodies are unable to do for themselves. How dare Price to bring humility, accusation and disrespect to those temples of the Holy Spirit; some of which could be experiencing God’s grace in their suffering, as Paul did.

The sheer volume of flaw demonstrated by WOF theology only continues to assert the real purpose of its teachers.

Titus 1:11 (NIV)
11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

In the pursuit of that purpose, they have continually maligned God’s word and have ruined people who are physically hindered by sickness, injury or defect. How devastating to the legitimate body of Christ it is when its weak are destroyed for the sake of the wealthy pretenders among them.

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