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Tired of trying to be a prophet, avatar or visionary but can’t get anyone to blindly follow you? Have you always wanted to know how to manipulate people in the name of any deity, religion or philosophy you want to hide behind so you can advance your OWN agenda of nakedly abusing power? Look no further!

Examines the similarities of cult traits and NPD in the pulpit.
The Seether songs remind me of my former “spiritual leaders” and probably mean more to me than making a statement to the viewers. Watch this before you give me too much head ache.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ecnm_a0EAtk

See the links in my other videos for more info in Spiritual Abuse, NPD in the pulpit and leaving a cult. Or just read these:

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6…

http://www.chameleongroup.org.uk/npd/…

http://www.meadowhaven.org/psychissue…

Founder of Freedom Beacon Ministries in Upstate, NY, talks about cult abuse and recovery issues.

What qualifies a group as a cult? Both the sociological and the theological perspectives are examined using nifty, easy to remember visuals.

While I am not a Presbyterian. I definantly call them my Brothers in Christ. I could be a presbetarian or reformed brother if I was not a dispensational pre-millennial -pre-tribber.

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TO YOUTUBER grinz2000:

The “Word of Faith” IS NOT THE GOSPEL / Todd Bentley is Word of Faith / Word of Faith IS WITCHCRAFT VEILED IN CHRISTIAN TERMS From Damon Whitsell, How2BecomeAChristian Apologetics Network

I had promised some friends that I had seen a video in which Todd Bentley had stated that he was highly influenced by Kenneth Hagin and hence was WoF also. I promised that I would send it to them when I found it again. I stumbled upon it today and the video is hosted by a WoF believer. THE VIDEO CLEARLY SHOWS BENTLEY IS WORD OF FAITH

In the comment section the owner of the channel grinz2000 was saying that Hank Hannegraph is “anti-supernatural”. THIS IS JUST NOT TRUE. And is both an ad hominum attack and a straw man LOGICAL FALLACY; only meant to try and discredit Hank’s exposure work against the WoF Movement.

So I informed grinz2000 that Hank is a continuationist/charismatic himself. So the accusation that Hannegraph is biased against the supernatural is just a lie and an gross misrepresentation of what the man says about himself. I am not a fan of Hank but I hate it when WoF’ers and charismatics in general try to paint people as “anti-supernatural” when that is just a straw man to dodge the issue. DISCREDIT THE ARGUMENT: NOT THE MAN
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During our exchange in grinz2000’s comments. He or she said,,,,

“Hanegraaf is against the Word of faith.. he calls it the “counterfeit revival”…’They’.. label the ‘Word of faith’ as a ‘movement’…but the Gospel is the Word of Faith..according to the Apostle Paul Romans 10:8 (King James Version) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; To not receive the ‘Word of Faith’ is to reject the true Gospel and all the ‘called’ ministry gifts..which is rejecting the Lord himself.”

I SAY: Well she should get the book. Hank does not just speak about and call just the Word of faith Movement a “Counterfeit Revival”.

NOW IS THE WORD OF FAITH THE GOSPEL??? Clearly the answer is NO, NO, NO!!!

THE WORD OF FAITH IS WITCHCRAFT VEILED IN CHRISTIAN TERMS

Wof’ERS are the best at the art of taking scripture out of context (CONTEXTOMY) to eisegete (INSERT INTO) her preconceived notions (OPINIONS) into the text. The context is clearly the Resurrection which is the gospel. So mush so that the Apostle Paul said if the resurrection of Jesus is not true,, then our faith will not save us from our sins.

Rom 10:1-17 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, **THE WORD OF FAITH**, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. or with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

SAVING FAITH IS TRUST THAT JESUS PAID THE PRICE FOR OUR SINS. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE GOSPEL IS CLEARLY STATED. 1Co 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:

IT IS CLEAR THAT THOSE WHO PREACH “ANOTHER GOSPEL” ARE DOOMED TO HELL.

Gal 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2Co 11:3-4 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
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THE WORD OF FAITH IS WITCHCRAFT VEILED IN CHRISTIAN TERMS.

From my article Abracadabra, Presto and SHAZAAM,, YOUR HEALED of your Word of Faith Delusion,,, because I SAY SO By Damon Whitsell

http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/2008/11/29/abracadabra-presto-and-shazaam-your-healed-of-your-word-of-faith-delusion-because-i-say-so-by-damon-whitsell/
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STRAIGHT FROM THE WITCHES MOUTH Here is some text from a website on witchcraft.

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/

“Mankind has always attempted to know the unknowable and control it by his own actions. At the same time, it was recognized that there were powers beyond his ability to control. Throughout history, certain people have been accepted as being better at controlling the powers that represent natural forces such as earthquake, wind, flood,fire and disease.

In some cases, these powers were named as gods or goddesses, at other times the forces themselves were named and summoned and controlled by the will of humans known as witches in modern day language.

The power possessed by a witch or shaman skilled in the art and working of witchcraft was assumed to be almost limitless. By saying certain words or power names in the correct manner and correct tone of voice, the witch could heal the ill, and cast out the evil spirits which caused pain and suffering in those who were diseased.

Inanimate nature also obeyed the words of witchcraft and even the creation of the world itself was through a spoken word. The words could tear the earth apart and make water pile up in a heap and even the sun could be stopped in its course by a word uttered in witchcraft.”

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Witchcraft vs Christianity; Learn the similarities and differences of the two

“The differences between the Christian and witchcraft viewpoint is the difference between being citizens of a society which takes an active role to shape and mold the structure of society or subjects of a society which has the connotation of subordination to the larger group for the benefit of all.

A similar term with very different meanings between Christian and pagan understandings of the word is “self-control”. To those practicing witchcraft they believe that they are the one who has full control over the actions. They do not surrender to another except under very brief, special and voluntary circumstances. Self-control means taking charge, making all decisions relating to oneself, doing anything so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.

The witch views control as the act of intentionally and positively directing the will toward the achievement of positive goals. The underlying assumption with the witch’s view of self control is that man is inherently valuable, and can achieve good and beneficial ends through the use of will power.”

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/christianity.html

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EVEN WITCHES DON’T HAVE FAITH IN FAITH

“People who are just beginning witchcraft don’t have the understanding or the ability to actually practice medicine, but witchcraft is the belief system which is outstripping all others in popularity. It is expected that young people who are practicing witches may soon be preparing for degrees in medical fields and thus improve the chances of being healed through witchcraft as well as more mainstream means and medications.

Modern scientists have documented the term called the placebo effect. When some people receive healing from illnesses which in some cases are considered terminal illnesses after being given a pill made of sugar rather than the test drug, the healing is due to the placebo effect. Others would say that they were healed by faith, the patient believed that they would be healed due to the medication, and so they were healed, in spite of the fact that they received no medication. So, faith regardless of whether the faith comes from belief in the drug, belief in God or belief in witchcraft.”

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/spells.html

A WICHES FAITH IS in WITCHRAFT. Not faith or God. There is no force called faith. Faith (trust) is only as good as the object of that faith.

An interesting study is to get a few bible dictionaries and do a word search on “God of forces” I have several books on demonology by Merrill F. Unger. He has a whole chapter devoted to the “God of forces” in one of them, so he might have a really good definition in his bible dictionary. I will look when I get more of my books out of storage.
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MORE WORDS FROM WITCHES ABOUT THE POWER OF WORDS COMING TO THIS BLOG LATER
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WHAT IS BAD IS THAT THE WORD OF FAITH TEACHERS KNOW THEY TEACH WITCHCRAFT!!!

Benny Hinn claims the Holy Spirit told him, “…that if witches and occultists can speak death by the supernatural power of words, then Christian can speak life and prosperity by the same power.” The Facts on the Faith Movement, J. Ankerberg & J. Weldon, Harvest House, 1993, p.23 Copyright ©2008

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Benny Hinn:Witches even..I mean..I’m not here to talk about witches but, but I’ll tell you this.

Paul Crouch:They..they under they know the secret.

Benny Hinn: “,,,because see I had a witch tell me this. And I said what!? She said, listen to me, she said do you know that we are taught in witchcraft how to kill birds with words, and how to kill people with our mouth. I said what do you mean kill people? She said we are taught with words to bring disease on men. I said how? She said by speaking certain words (unintelligible) she said we can actually cause sickness that could very well kill.Christianity in Crisis (audiobook), tape II, side 3.

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COPELAND: Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and that’s when the action takes place because that is when the spiritual force is brought up out of the mouth – whether it be fear or whether it be faith – and when that spiritual force comes out, it is going to give substance to that image that is inside of you. People say, ‘that is that New Age visualization stuff’. The New Age is trying to do this. And they get somewhat results out of it because it is a spiritual law. (Believer’s Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 28 March 1991.)

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 ALL WORD OF FAITHERS NEED TO REPENT AND FOLLOW THE TRUE GOSPEL!!!

YA’LL DON’T HAVE “THE FULL GOSPEL”. YA’LL HAVE A FOOLS GOSPEL!!!

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/05/12/the-word-of-faith-is-not-the-gospel/

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Does God want us to be rich and have a “BIG HOUSE?”

THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME!!!

From time to time we get comments that need to be responded to in depth. This is one case.

Demonknight2 SAID,,,,

“Hello, Damon. Since you clearly don’t want comments that say anything nice about the guys you’re against, I won’t say anything. But I have to ask you SERIOUSLY your personal opinion or what you think the Bible says about the issue… Perhaps God doesn’t necassarily want ALL believers to be BILLIONARES. But… Do you really think that as Christians, the only things we’re worthy of having (in God’s eyes) are the SAME things non-believers have or LESS than what non-believers have??? In other words, why would God ask believers to engage in things completely outside the realm of what the rest of the world is doing, then expect those SAME people to eat mud pies for dinner, AND LIKE IT?????? Again, are you saying that the God we serve is a “turn the other cheek & eat hambergers for dinner & thank me for it” type of God, while the person that slapped you is laughing with his friends about it & eating steak & has NOTHING to do with God??? Honestly, if God is going to contrast the size of our wallet to whether we love & trust in him, then perhaps it’s not us who are putting stock in money, maybe it’s really God! OK, but that sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it??? But equally ridiculous? The notion that God wants, condones, or commands that all believers be LESS than “the world” even if the subject IS MONEY!!! Be HONEST… Do you want to serve a God that “sees” you as not being worthy to have a house BIGGER than a person who OUTWORDLY MOCKS GOD???? – Thanks”

I will do my best to show how Demonknight2 needs a total paradigm shift in his understanding. Because his case is levied against mere strawmen arguments (not the real beliefs of those he opposes) that he has created in his own mind against those that do not believe in the Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement.

The Lord has blessed some to be rich and some not. Mainline Christianity does not say that “God does not want us rich” NOR does it posit that “God wants us to live in poverty”. But the Word of God is clear that we cannot serve both God and Money (mammon), and Gods declares “chose this day whom you will serve.” We are not to store up for ourselves treasures on this earth but in heaven. It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of needle. This is not because being rich is a sin. But because earthly riches have earthly strings (the deceitfulness of riches) attached, instead of the pursuit of sanctification (the race set before us), is wrought with many inherent problems. But the Lord does sometimes bless is followers with great material possessions in this world, if it be his will for that believer. Given that they are mature in the faith and have their eyes fixed on Jesus and are serving Him and not “serving money.”

THE BIBLE HAS MANY WARNINGS ABOUT EARTHLY RICHES: 

Ecc 5:10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is an evil disease.

Ecc 6:2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he Wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is also vanity.

Ecc 12:7-8 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall returned to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity

1Ti 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded; nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Jas 1:10-11 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

THE BIBLE HAS WARNINGS ABOUT THE FLEETINGNESS OF LIFE

Psa 102:11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

Jas 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Psa 144:3-4 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

1Ch 29:15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

TIME IS JUST A PUZZLE PIECE IN ETERNITY!!!

AND Our days are short and do quickly fade Job_14:2; Psa_90:9, Psa_102:11, Psa_144:4; Ecc_6:12; Isa_40:6-8; Jam_4:14

For we are aliens and strangers to this world. This world IS NOT our home!!!

We are merely pilgrims on a pilgrimage and sojourners in a foreign land. Gen_47:9; Psa_39:12, Psa_119:19; Heb_11:13-16; 1Pe_2:11 ; 1Pe_1:17

The Lord tells us in the sermon on the Mount that we are the salt and light of the world. This means He was telling us that this world is not our home. Matthew 5:13-16. 1Corinthians 15 gloriously proclaims the resurrection life that is to come for those who believe (trust, faith is not a force) on Jesus.

BUT UNBELIVERS ARE RESSURECTED TO DIE THE SECOND DEATH Rev. 20:6,14

1Pe 1:23-24 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

Therefore, “Mat 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The Lord is not concerned about big houses in this life. He is concerned that our pursuit of earthly riches in this life will cause us to miss out on the home He has prepared for us in Heaven. If I where to suffer for in abject poverty for a hundred thousand years in this life. It would not compare to the riches of His Eternal Kingdom

I THINK THE QUESTION IS,,,,, WILL YOU HAVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW,,, OR LATER?

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/05/13/this-world-is-not-our-home/

Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner, generally known as Marjoe Gortner (born January 14, 1944 (1944-01-14) (age 65) in Long Beach, California), is a former revivalist who first gained a certain fame in the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s when he became the youngest ordained preacher at the age of four, and then outright notoriety in the 1970s when he starred in an Oscar-winning, behind-the-scenes documentary about the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching. The name “Marjoe” is a portmanteau of the names “Mary” and “Joseph“.

When Marjoe was three, his father, a third generation minister, noticed his son’s talent for mimicry and overall fearlessness of strangers and public settings. His parents claimed Marjoe had received a vision from God during a bath and began training him to deliver sermons, complete with dramatic gestures and emphatic lunges. By the time Marjoe was four, his parents arranged for him to perform a marriage ceremony for a film crew from Paramount studios, referring to him as “the youngest ordained minister in history.” Like much in Marjoe’s early life it is hard to say for sure who exactly ordained him, if his father ordained him, or if he was even ordained at all.

Until the time he was a teenager, Marjoe and his parents traveled the United States, holding revival meetings. As well as teaching him scriptural passages, Marjoe’s parents also taught him several money-making tactics, involving the sale of supposedly “holy” articles at revivals which promised to heal the sick and dying. By the time Marjoe was sixteen, he later estimated, his family had amassed maybe three million dollars; shortly after his sixteenth birthday, Marjoe’s father absconded with the money, and a disillusioned Marjoe left his mother for San Francisco, where he was taken in by and became the lover of an older woman. Marjoe spent the remainder of his teenage years as an itinerant hippie until his early twenties, when, hard pressed for money, he decided to put his old skills to work and re-emerged on the circuit with a charismatic stage-show modeled after those of contemporary rockers, most notably Mick Jagger. Marjoe made enough to take six months off every year, during which he returned to California, surviving on the previous six months’ earnings.

In the late 1960s, Marjoe suffered a crisis of conscience — in particular about the threats of damnation he felt compelled to weave into his sermons — and resolved to make one final tour, this time on film. Under the pretense of making a documentary detailing a viable ministry, Marjoe assembled a documentary film crew to follow him around revival meetings in California, Texas, and Michigan during 1971. Unbeknownst to everyone else involved — including, at one point, his father — Marjoe gave “backstage” interviews to the filmmakers in between sermons and revivals, explaining intimate details of how he and other ministers operated. After sermons, the filmmakers were invited back to Marjoe’s hotel room to tape him counting the money he collected during the day. The resulting film, Marjoe, won the 1972 Academy Award for best documentary.

After leaving the revival circuit, Gortner then attempted to break into both Hollywood and the recording industry. He cut an LP with Columbia Records, entitled “Bad, but not Evil” (Gortner’s description of himself in the documentary), which met with poor sales and reviews. Gortner began his acting career with a featured role in The Marcus-Nelson Murders, the 1973 pilot for the Kojak tv-series. The following year saw him featured in the disaster film Earthquake as a psychotic National Guardsman, and in the television movie Pray for the Wildcats. Oui magazine hired Gortner to cover Millennium ’73, a November 1973 festival headlined by Guru Maharaj Ji who was sometimes called a “boy guru”.[1]

During the late 1970s, Marjoe attempted to self-finance another film, this time a pseudo-fictional drama about an evangelist con-man and based in part on his real-life experiences. The film began shooting in New Orleans, Louisiana, but went bankrupt less than six weeks into production. The film was never completed.

Gortner was married briefly to Candy Clark, from 1978 to December 14, 1979.[2]

Gortner’s most memorable film performance was as the psychopathic, hostage-taking drug dealer in Milton Katselas‘s 1979 screen adaptation of Mark Medoff‘s play When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?, also starring Peter Firth, Lee Grant, and Hal Linden. He also starred in several B-movies such as the television film The Gun and The Pulpit (1974) {also released onto home video as The Gun and the Cross}, The Food Of The Gods (1976), and Starcrash (1978). He appeared frequently on the 1980s Circus of the Stars specials. He hosted an early-1980s reality TV series called Speak Up, America and appeared on Falcon Crest as corrupt psychic-medium “Vince Karlotti” (1986-87) before ending his movie career in 1995 with an appearance in the western Wild Bill in which he played a preacher.

Today he sponsors charity golf tournaments and other events, as well as working as a public speaker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjoe_Gortner

 

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From Faith in Faith
to Faith in Christ

By: Peter Glover

Mark Haville’s is an extraordinary story. Converted into the Pentecostal/Charismatic church he quickly came under the spell of the Word-Faith teaching of men like Kenneth Copeland. But things did not stay that way for Mark…

Still in his mid-20’s, Mark became an itinerant minister travelling the country earning large sums of money through his ability to perform ‘signs and wonders’. Remarkably, he has renounced his former life, his beliefs, and his practices as a Word-Faith minister and is now speaking out boldly against the beliefs and practices of the current Signs and Wonders movement.

(Note: In the text ‘EN’ refers to Evangelicals Now, and ‘MH’ refers to Mark Haville. ‘PG’ is Peter Glover)

EN: “How did you first get involved with Word Faith teaching?”

MH: I was given lots of tapes and books by Kenneth Copeland which everyone was into at my church in North London. I believed that my Christian experience could validate my faith. It convinced me that what I was in was real. I was impressed by the numbers involved, their interest in the media, publications, the money and the general trappings of success – it bred the belief in me that biggest must be best.

EN: “What was the most appealing aspect of Word Faith teaching for you?”

MH: The Word Faith movement offered me power, what I believed to be a convincing testimony to the reality of God. It gave me support because I could show ‘things’ by preaching and performing. I was given numerous videos, audios and literature. All that I was given appeared glossy and successful.

EN: “How did you use what you saw in this material?”

MH: Basically, I copied it. I learned gradually to do what all these speakers like Copeland, Cerullo, Benny Hinn and others do. They manipulate audiences and individuals simply by the power of suggestion. They call the result ‘signs and wonders’. They are deluded. Gradually, I too had learned the process of controlling meetings and inducing hypnotic techniques through suggestion in churches. I did many of the so-called signs and wonders.

(PG: I was shown a video of a meeting held at a Pentecostal fellowship in Leeds being run by Mark. He explained the staged process of audience manipulation as things progressed. After a long period of singing what Mark described as ‘relaxing’ Spirit-focused songs, he appeared to be able to blow individuals over at will. They then remained on the ground for long periods – what is commonly termed ‘slaying in the spirit’).

THE RIGHT ATMOSPHERE

EN: “You maintain then that you were able to induce an atmosphere that was conducive to hypnotic suggestion?”

MH: Absolutely. The techniques are no different to those used by any practising hypnotist. First, the people in these meetings are already coming with high expectancy – they want it to be God. Second, you need to create the right atmosphere – hence the long periods of singing certain types of songs to make people feel relaxed and warm.

EN: “What kind of praise and worship?”

MH: It is very important to use songs and words that are focused on the Holy Spirit. This creates a far more mystical atmosphere. Songs full of Christian or Biblical doctrine work against people suspending their critical faculties. The effect is to create a mindlessness that will open your audience up to suggestion. Most people have no idea just how powerful suggestion can be. Let me add that all this is not necessarily done wilfully by leaders. This is something many of them have stumbled upon. It works, so they do it and call it “the Holy Spirit”.

EN: “Will it affect everyone at the meeting?”

MH: No, not at all. If you do not believe that it is God that is doing these things in the meeting, there is no way you will fall down. But remember, I am the one running the show. Just like any good hypnotist, I will be ‘working’ the audience. I can tell which ones are the more suggestive by asking certain questions. I can then bring people forward, having gotten them into a very relaxed and accepting state. You have to remember, people who come really want to believe that God is at work. By telling them to stand in a particular place I am strongly influencing their belief that by standing where I have told them – on that exact spot – something is going to happen. By telling them someone will stand behind them, because we wouldn’t want them to get hurt if they fall, it is all heightening the sense of anticipation and suggestiveness. The rest is easy.

EN: “You seemed to find it difficult to watch yourself on screen.”

MH: Yes, I find it very hard knowing how I unconsciously deceived good people into believing that the Holy Spirit was at work when it was common or garden hypnosis. But at the time I suppose I did believe, however incorrectly, that these things were the activity of God. But the reality is, I learned these techniques by watching others, and anybody can do them given enough training. They are psychological techniques – nothing else.

EN: “What caused you to look again at what you were doing and believed?”

MH: In a nutshell – the Scriptures themselves. I decided that I wanted to learn the Scriptures in the original Greek and I began to realise that what I believed didn’t match up with what the Scriptures actually taught.

A BIG RETHINK

EN: “For instance?”

MH: In 1 Corinthians it didn’t say we would be given spiritual gifts on demand, but as God wills. I had always been taught that, with enough faith, if you were ‘anointed’ and prayed enough, you would manifest the relevant gifts. I could see that God really didn’t work that way.

I could see that my fellow Bible students didn’t change for all their ‘anointing’. I witnessed the lack of basic integrity in fellow students and in my church. The church was in great debt and yet money was spent on unnecessary things like an electronic song board. We owed £200,000! And there were factions in the church. None of it added up. It didn’t fit at all with the health and wealth gospel we had been taught and which we preached. So I left.

EN: “And then?”

MH: Somebody gave me some videos teaching the Jewish exegetical method of learning. These methods would have been employed by the apostles. It really started to give me a much more critical mind. It caused me to ask more questions highlighting more and more areas that were very wrong. My faith started to re-focus again on Jesus and not the ‘outworkings’ such as praying in tongues or signs and wonders.

EN: “At this stage did you think of looking for an appropriate church?”

MH: Just before leaving I had already started the National Prayer Network evangelistic enterprise, producing teaching tapes and evangelistic videos. My energies went into that. Out of that came a group of people who started meeting together as a small church.

VERY DANGEROUS

EN: “What is your view about what is happening on the British church scene today?”

MH: We’re seeing an increase of Word Faith/health and wealth preaching and teaching. It is weakening the witness of the body of Christ by compromising to a world view. It gauges spirituality by success. The most dangerous thing is they are undermining true Christian faith which is based on God’s word alone. As Luther said, “My heart is captive to the word of God.”

EN: “What do you see as the hallmarks of this kind of ‘Christian’ belief?”

MH: Revelry, riotous behaviour, sensual Christianity.

EN: “And the more practical effects?”

MH: It re-directs funds away from legitimate gospel evangelism and real social needs, the orphans and widows and such. Its leaders earn exorbitant amounts of money – where the Bible teaches leaders shouldn’t reap dividends. If you can perform signs and wonders you can earn vast amounts of money. It was not unknown for me to be ‘gifted’ £400 – £500 on occasions. This is nothing to the five-figure sums charged by some modern prophets. Basic Christian truth is being superseded by pseudo-Christianity. We need to return to a Christ-centred gospel which produces a selfless and non-materialistic lifestyle.

EN: “What about the numbers the Faith and signs and wonders movement claim are saved?”

MH: This is self-deluding exaggeration based on faulty theology of conversion. They teach commitment to a message rather than conviction by the gospel. They need figures to validate their ministry for the continued solicitation of funds.

END-TIME ADVICE

EN: “What would you say then to those caught in the current signs and wonders movement?”

MH: Jesus did more signs and wonders than anybody else and at the end of His ministry He only had about 500 followers. Anyone caught up in the current trend towards belief in a great end-time restoration of the Church must first realise that this kind of revival is the opposite of what scripture promises. What Jesus did promise is the falling away of professing Christians, and an influx of false ‘anointed’ ones.

If we are truly living at the imminent return of Christ, where are those things that God promised must take place?

I would say to my brothers and sisters in these movements that you may well not be conscious that what you believe is other people’s opinion on Scripture, as I did. You would do well to heed the words of Martin Luther – ‘Sola Scriptura’.

Notes:

1.
Word-Faith preaches a gospel of personal wealth which can be obtained through the ‘force of faith’. Spiritual power is thus generated through ‘faith’. God’s sovereign will is effectively overridden by this ‘force of faith’, effecting eternal spiritual laws to which God Himself is subject. PG.

2.
Research carried out in 1994 amongst a number of Christians from many different backgrounds revealed that almost 100% believed the ‘Word-Faith’ message is merely the gospel plus healing and prosperity on demand. None of those surveyed had any idea of the depth of heresy and extent of error in this movement. (Extract from ‘The Faith Movement May Be Prospering But Is It Healthy?’, by Stuart St. John: 95 pence booklet available from Reachout Trust, 24 Ormond Road, Richmond, England).

The above article was first published by Evangelicals Now, March 1996, and is reprinted by kind permission.

http://www.christiandoctrine.net/doctrine/articles/article_00086_from_faith_in_faith_to_faith_in_christ_web.htm

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Mark Haville is also the host and a producer of this must see video!!!

Signs And Wonders Movement Exposed: THE VIDEO SERIES THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST SEE!!!!!!!

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/04/14/signs-and-wonders-movment-exposed/

 

 

A Response to, “The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation” (Note: Click on the title to see the article being discussed).

 

Although I am not familiar with the author of this article in online theological journal, Cyberjournal For Pentecostal-Charismatic Research (http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/), I am familiar with pentecostal-charismatic theology in general and with the prosperity gospel in particular. Having spent ten years or more of my life within the pentecostal-charismatic movement, I feel that I am qualified to comment on the doctrinal aberrations and distinctions of various traditions within the broader movement. Additionally, my theological training was completed at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Florida. (Now known as Southeastern University, a mostly liberal arts college). Although my seminary training was completed at Asbury Theological Seminary, I was a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies for two years.

As a young pentecostal I at first accepted uncritically most of the things which were being taught in my new local church, which was a member of the Assemblies of God denomination, and in home prayer group meetings and Sunday school classes. Although I was well read in the Scriptures, I thought that these folks knew something that I did not since I was only a new Christian having recently accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at age twenty-five. But the longer I was a member of the church and the more I read Holy Scripture some things did not seem to agree with what the total context of Scripture seemed to say. However, I continued to set aside my reservations under extreme peer pressure and group control.

In my opinion the severe control tactics of pentecostal-charismatic groups approaches the level of spiritual abuse and maybe even the level of cults like the Moonies or the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Those who question the doctrines or practices of the group are severely attacked and forced out.

The theological roots of the pentecostal-charismatic movement lies within the Wesleyan holiness movement of the 19th century and its later influence upon those on the more Augustinian/Calvinist side of things in the so-called Keswick or Higher Life movement. The Wesleyan holiness movement further developed its theology from John Wesley’s theology of entire sanctification, which was apparently an adaptation from the Anglican doctrine of confirmation and from an Eastern Orthodox doctrine of deification.

While Wesley’s doctrine of justification by faith alone was taken from the Reformed views of the Moravians, his other doctrinal innovations came from a more semi-pelagian view of things via William Law and Eastern Orthodoxy. The real problem with Wesley’s doctrine of entire sanctification, however, is that it leads to a division between ordinary Christians and those who are “carnal” or “baby” Christians. While Wesley himself never claimed to have attained the state of entire sanctification it is almost certain that he believed he was in such a state. Later holiness theology of the 19th century went beyond Wesley in saying that a second work of grace or entire sanctification could be instantaneously received much like a conversion experience, whereas Wesley taught that entire sanctification was a gradual process and at some culmination later a state of entire sanctification or sinless perfect was reached. Phoebe Palmer, a female lay preacher with the Free Methodist Church, is credited with making this innovation of an instantaneous experience of entire sanctification, thereby laying the groundwork for the pentecostal revival of the 20th century. The Keswick higher life movement borrowed from the Wesleyans and led to such groups as the Moody Bible Institute and the Christian Missionary Alliance.

All this essentially created two groups of Christians, those who were in the know and those who were barely saved by the skin of their teeth. A spiritual elite, if you will, and a not so spiritual second class level of Christians who needed more. This, combined with the extreme emphasis on eschatology and the end times, led to the emphasis on the restoration of all the New Testament spiritual gifts from the apostolic period, including the supernatural gifts of healing, miracles, signs, wonders, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues and interpretation, etc. This emphasis on hidden knowledge available only to the spiritual elite sounds an awful lot like gnosticism.

Which brings us to the beginning of a second innovation that sprang up out of the pentecostal revival. From the initial pentecostal revival beginning in Topeka, Kansas and the Bible institute run by Charles Parham to the spread to the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California with the black holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, the pentecostal movement was prone to heterodoxy and even outright heresy. In 1914 the Assemblies of God was forced to formulate a basic doctrinal statement emphasizing traditional trinitarian theology in response to the so-called “New Issue.” The Jesus Only baptism movement had led directly to a denial of the trinity and the separation of many churches into several anti-trinitarian pentecostal groups.

A third heretical group arose from the theology of the 1940’s healing movement under ministers like Kenneth Hagin and William Branham. Hagin in particular is known as the father of the Word of Faith movement. Hagin initially claimed to have received his doctrines by “revelation knowledge” or by direct revelation from God. Later, however, scholars like D.R. McConnell, formerly a professor of New Testament at Oral Roberts University, exposed the fact that Hagin had instead plagiarized word from word from works by E.W. Kenyon, a baptist minister who had accepted the doctrine of divine healing. The trouble was that Kenyon himself had syncretized his baptist theology with Christian Science and New Thought doctrines he had picked up while a student of oratory at Emerson College in Boston.

This extreme emphasis on visualization and speaking positive confessions sounds like Christian Science precisely because that is the original source of such aberrant thinking. If you will forgive the pun, the Word of Faith Movement is “stinking thinking” in and of itself! I would agree with D.R. McConnell that the Word of Faith movement is indeed a heresy of the first order and that those involved in the movement are in need of a conversion to Christ. The health and wealth gospel or prosperity gospel is really a different gospel and completely foreign to biblical theology.

When the charismatic renewal struck the mainline denominations in the 1960’s, beginning with Dennis Bennett, a Episcopal minister in Van Nuys, California, the pentecostal theology of spirit baptism and spirit gifts was adapted by dropping the pentecostal insistence on the “initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues” as evidence of receiving the second work of grace or Spirit baptism. Unfortunately, liberal mainline converts to the charismatic movement did not forsake their tendencies to accommodate to culture and liberal theology. They also apparently had no problem with Christian Science or the Word of Faith movement as this was readily assimilated as well. Additionally, the traditional classical pentecostal denominations were one by one subdued by the charismatic movement, though they did “officially” stick to their doctrines of initial physical evidence and second or even third works of grace.

Thus, what we see today is a hodgepodge of theology within the charismatic-pentecostal movement at large such that the prosperity gospel is almost synonymous with the charismatic-pentecostal movement. I might also mention that classical pentecostalism has been assimilated into the charismatic movement for the most part. Thus, most pentecostal churches look and sound more like charismatic churches than pentecostal churches. The former emphasis on biblical exposition has given way to an extreme emphasis on the supernatural to the point that experience is the source of doctrine rather than Scripture. It is therefore no surprise that heretical movements within the pentecostal-charismatic tradition have arisen many times since the turn of the twentieth century. I might mention the Latter Rain Movement, the oneness pentecostal movement, the Word of Faith Movement, Kingdom Now, the Shepherding Movement, etc., et. al.

What I find particularly troubling about the article referred to in the link in the title is that the author, Dr. George O. Folarin, seems to have no problem accepting the prosperity gospel as biblical. He as much as admits there are problems with the doctrine in statements like these:

A major problem with the prosperity gospel as presently practiced in Nigeria is that it is not fully delivering on its promises. There are still many sincere Christians who are financially poor, sick, and/or demon oppressed. For Christians who believe in the truth of Scripture, the fault cannot be with God and his promises. It must be the interpretations that prosperity gospel preachers use to justify the theology that are wrong. Some Christians tend to believe that in the attempt to provide answers to the existence of evil on earth despite belief in an all-powerful and all-good God, preachers of prosperity have sometimes ended up creating a truncated gospel of salvation. http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj16/folarin.html 

The problem is that the prosperity gospel is based more on the confirmation by ecstatic experiences of charismatics or pentecostals than on a sound exposition of Holy Scripture. If Holy Scripture is the final word in matters of faith and doctrine, then experience must take a backseat to Scripture. Also problematic is the origin of the prosperity gospel in the Word of Faith movement, which is itself a syncretization of Christian Science and New Thought doctrines with Christianity.

Dr. Folarin also admits that many adherents, teachers and preachers within prosperity gospel circles have not been discipled in basic Bible theology or traditional Reformed understanding of the Holy Scriptures:

The prosperity gospel, as it stands, however, has serious weaknesses. Some of these are theological. These weaknesses are the results of the faulty hermeneutics that prosperity preachers adopt. Many of them never attended standard theological schools that could help them approach Bible interpretation more systematically. Unfortunately, many of them also never passed through good Sunday School classes that could have helped them in their formative years. Worse still, many prosperity preachers never underwent discipleship training after conversion. If they had been discipled, a fair grasp of biblical theology would have influenced their formulation of prosperity theology. http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj16/folarin.html

There are other serious flaws in the prosperity gospel, including its understanding of God and Satan as almost equals, which implies dualism rather than the sovereignty of God over all forms of evil (see Isaiah 45:7). The Word of Faith understanding of Jesus as merely a Spirit-empowered man sounds like they either have a deficient understanding of the hypostatic union or they have adopted a doctrine of kenosis which goes beyond merely the voluntary non use of the Son’s divine prerogatives. Thus, the prosperity gospel denies both the sovereignty of God and uses subtle deviations to describe a completely different Jesus from the Jesus described in Holy Scripture. Other issues that go beyond the scope of this brief post could be mentioned. However, I will leave that for another day. It should suffice, however, to note that Anglicans who think the charismatic movement is somehow “conservative” have misplaced their loyalties and joined ranks with those advocating heterodoxies and even outright heresies. If Christ had not said, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” I would have cause to despair.

May the peace of God be with you.

prosperitygospeldropouts

(Cartoon from the Back Pew)

 http://hermansmith.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/prosperity-gospel-dropouts-they-need-the-mentorship-of-fred-price/

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The Wages of Unrepented Greed and Pulpit Peddling is Death

prosperity-kills

http://hermansmith.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/the-wages-of-unrepented-greed-and-pulpit-peddling-is-death/

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Autonomous Self“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

The Doctrine of Autonomous Self: A Hidden Idolatry
By A. Sutono

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:11-15)

I. Background

In this text, Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer, as well as the cause and effect of it. We learn the cause of him being eternally condemned by God from v.13 and 14 is that he is so filled with pride and self-adoration that he declares himself to be worthy to ascend into heaven and be exalted above the stars of God. He considers himself to be as equally valuable, as equally worthy, if not more valuable and more worthy than God himself that he should be like the Most High. In response, God removed him from his original state and declares that his splendor be nullified and brought down to shame, and he himself be brought down to hell, to a place of eternal torment which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) forever as his eternal destiny. When Lucifer was removed from heaven, his name became Satan, and was cast to the earth. In the account of the Fall in Gen 3, after which God offered the promise of deliverance through the atoning work of the LORD Jesus Christ on the cross implied in v. 15, we may observe the correlation between Satan’s sinful ambition to what he tempted Adam and Eve with, which eventually led the couple to sin against God and caused the entire humanity to be totally and hopelessly depraved and under the same condemnation that Lucifer has as a result. The correlation is clearly seen in Gen 3:5, when Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Here are the double lies being offered to Eve springing out of the same principle behind his botched coup attempt; first, that she would be like gods, and thus independent, able to rule over herself apart from God, and secondly, there is not one God, but many gods; each is sovereign over himself or herself.

From here, I would like to state the thesis of this article before expounding further:

1. That the doctrine of autonomous-self, or often referred to as “free-will”, whether it be “Christian” or non-Christian one, though may not appear explicitly, originates from the same spirit by which Lucifer rebelled against God, that is, the spirit of self-idolatry.

2. That the doctrine of autonomous-self is indeed a non-Christian doctrine because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches such a doctrine and therefore, should be rejected by all true Christians.

I would like to first define what an autonomous self is. I would then attempt, by the use of the first thesis, refute the free-will Arminian argument to defend this false doctrine, particularly in regard to the Fall, salvation, and all the affairs of the world. Finally, I would close with the Biblical basis of my refutation with the exhortation given in the second thesis.

II. Definition of Autonomous Self

Throughout history, there are many who teach the doctrine of autonomous self, among whom is Pelagius. I would now quote from John Owen [1] on what Pelagianism teaches about the autonomous self:

“According to Pelagianism, God gives grace to all who hear the law and the gospel preached. Those who do this are persuaded to repent and believe by the promises of the gospel and the threatenings of the law. The things taught and commanded in the law and gospel are seen to be not only good in themselves, but so utterly reasonable that anyone would gladly receive them if they were not so prejudiced ( i.e., men can themselves respond favorably to the gospel preached by believing in the message without any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit), or deliberately chose to continue with their sinful life. Man has only to consider these promises of the gospel and threatenings of the law to remove these prejudices and so reform himself. When man believes the gospel and obeys it of his own free will and choice (again, no external divine influence at work to convince him of the truth of the gospel, on the contrary, this conviction comes out within himself), then he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, enters into all the privileges of the New Testament, and has a right and title to all the promises concerning both the present and the future life. So say the Pelagians. Thus man converts himself, and the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit are both excluded. All that is needed is the ability to persuade him to repent of his sin and believe and obey the gospel.”

In other words, the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that men in both unregenerate and regenerate states is completely independent and capable of self-determination of what is good and bad for him (hence the term autonomous) and from which make decision without any external divine influence or swaying to a particular direction.

To understand what autonomous-self is more clearly, let us look at Sproul’s definition of autonomy [2]:

“To be autonomous means to be a law unto oneself. An autonomous creature would be answerable to no one. He would have no governor, least of all a sovereign governor. It is logically impossible to have a sovereign God existing at the same time as an autonomous creature. The two concepts are utterly incompatible. To think of their coexistence would be like imagining the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. What would happen? If the object moved, then it could no longer be considered immovable. If it failed to move, then the irresistible force would no longer be irresistible.”

Then for the definition of autonomous self, I would borrow from David Wells [3], defining the autonomy generation as:

“…those who belonged in this outlook saw themselves as being at the center of life, as being responsible only to themselves, as having the sole hand in deciding what beliefs to hold and what behaviors to follow.”

And therefore, continuing to quote Wells [3]:

“… the self becomes the main form of reality and the pursuit of its rights and unique intuitions, even in the face of others, is what life is about.”

My comment to Prof. Well’s definition is this. Isn’t the autonomous-self then the essence of prosperity gospel, where Christ has been reduced to a lackey or a genie to serve us to accomplish our agenda whether that be family, or money, or career, or, self-healing, self-improvement or anything other than Christ himself? Some may say they don’t believe in prosperity gospel but believe in free-will in the autonomous sense. This, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of the prosperity gospel.

II. Refutation of the Arminian Argument of Autonomous Self

Now I desire to refute biblically a familiar argument in regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation and all events throughout the course of history. In addition, I would also attempt to show the spirit behind all these arguments tends to resemble that of Lucifer as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. Before I go on doing so, however, I would like to point out ‘the goal of the commandment is love’. I can understand new Christians who believe in autonomous self, because I was like that. I tend to think it is natural for new Christians to have such an understanding of how salvation and all the affairs in the world work. I acknowledge I need the humility to understand those who are slow to grasp the truth in the sovereignty of God over all things. The fact is the LORD had mercy on me to reveal what I consider a precious biblical truth of his sovereignty that I have come to love, embrace, and desire to defend with hopefully a holy zeal, holy motive, yet with humility as well in this article. And may the LORD grant the grace to change and transform hearts and minds into ones that acknowledge and submit joyfully under his supremacy over all things (Col 1:18).

The argument that I would like to refute (though there has been many more qualified pastors and theologians than me, past and present who have done this, but I would try to do it from hopefully a different point of view), is a common free-will Arminian / Pelagian argument which was the first Arminian article in their remonstrance brought by Johannes Uitenbogaard and Simon Episcopious in 1610, which was refuted by the Calvinists’ Counter Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619, in regard to how salvation works as follows. This first article stated the following: “God’s foreknowledge, that is, divine election was conditiond on foreseen or foreknown faith”. In other words, it says “faith is the cause of election” the basis of which is for example in Rom 8:29, refers to God knowing in advance of who is going to believe by their own free will and who is not, and from there God elects them to be saved. Thus man’s faith existing apart from God’s will but from the man himself is the cause of God’s election. In other words, it all starts with man’s free will to choose to be saved. Men are the Alpha, the beginning, not God. Then based on each independent isolated individual’s decision to believe or to desire to be saved where God has nothing to do with because this comes out completely and independently from man and not God, God is obliged to save them because they have faith to believe. Here men call God to account and demand that because they initiated to believe the Gospel, God is required to save them. So God’s sovereignty consists in submitting himself to and making sure the wills of men are carried out. God is not free in ordaining anything because He is subject to the will of men that he values very much even more important and above himself. Here is the worst kind, the most blatant, the most arrogant, and the most blasphemous of man-centered doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Bible, and an example how the Scripture like Rom 8:29 is distorted to serve man’s needs or if I may borrow John Piper’s quote[4], the gospel has been abused for ‘psychological form of mind control’. I regard this Arminian stand on the free agency of man and God as the most self-centered among man-centered doctrines, even more man-centered than opentheism.

Opentheism at least admits the future is unknown, even God has no control over it and anybody could change it. The Arminian doctrine in regard to the free-will of men as we have discussed is worse than open-theism because it teaches the future is already known, at least in regard to salvation, who is saved and who is not, and who makes this decision before the foundations of the world is men. Then God responds to each individual decision either by saving or condemning. Here is the kind of abomination that I dread has been prevailing in the minds of many Christians, because this is how they were taught by man-centered, world-loving, money-loving preachers. Those who teach this doctrine usually insist that God is still sovereign and omnipotent. But I sense this is simply a futile attempt to cover up their self-centeredness and thus, self-idolatry. God, despite his omnipotence, has been domesticated to serve man’s needs. His omnipotence has become subordinate to man’s will and it is his to use for his benefit. Man makes the call first independently out of his own self-determination of good and bad. Then it is God’s turn to follow up on man’s actions and decisions, whether to clean them up if they are sinful, or to bless them if they are good.

As Mark Talbot says [5] (he explains it in the context of opentheism, but I believe it is applicable here as well) that the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that God values man’s free will so much that he is willing to pay any price. God is really good in cleaning things up to the point that the alternative plan B that he executes looks even better, more perfect than the botched plan A that man has frustrated. So in a way, the doctrine of autonomous self treats God like a lackey or a genie in a bottle whom man can stir as he pleases and wills. Everything God does is for the benefits of man, and here is man, the center of the universe and God’s idol. Therefore, men are not only the Alpha, the beginning, but also the Omega, the end of everything God does and the whole entire universe work for. This, I fear, may God forbid, is the desire behind those who embrace the doctrine of autonomous self which is nothing but the very ambition of Lucifer to be exalted above God (Isa 14:13-14) because the resemblance between the two is striking. It is all about desire for control, as Dave Wells pointed out behind autonomous self [6]:

“This preoccupation with the future is really about control. At least, it is about our attempts at controlling the future as it crests into the present by being able to position ourselves to avoid what is disagreeable and to capitalize on what is advantageous. Indeed, we even go further. We imagine that the future begins in our minds and we can actually create it.”

At this point, I would point to Scripture texts (that I also included somewhere else [7]) that I hope the LORD uses to show the fallacy of the doctrine of autonomous-self, to humble its proponents and exhort them to embrace the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God over all things. While these texts tend to be self-explanatory in themselves but I shall attempt to expound a little on each:

– “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). John says the decisive power to become the sons of God ( v.12), i.e., to be saved, does not come from man’s will power, but God’s (v.13). Therefore, contrary to what the first remonstrance article says that faith is the cause of election, John says election is the cause of faith. God initiates salvation, not men. Men are dead in their trepasses (Eph 2:1). Physically dead people do not and can not have any desire (inclination) and ability to eat, drink, work, because they are dead, their brain is dead, their heart is dead, their digestive system is dead, and there is no way for them to revive themselves. So also dead Lazarus was unable to revive himself until Jesus called him and infused life to his body to revive him. (John 11). Lazarus did not revive himself. Jesus did. And thus Lazarus couldn’t brag he was alive because of his free will to be alive. Likewise, it is impossible for spiritually dead people to have any desire for God. Their heart is ‘desperately’ or ‘hopelessly’ wicked as Jer 17:9 says. St. Paul affirms the total depravity of humanity apart unless God changes this heart of stone with the heart of flesh (Ez 36:26-27) because “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law. Nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7). Notice the last part that says “Nor can it do so.” So let us not brag that we have the free will to be christians or we in our sovereignty “decided” to be christians. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3) but with sober judgment, I’d say, of who we were, and what we are now, and who God is. Do not rob God of something He did and claim we did it. The faith, the willingness to believe, to embrace Christ as our treasure, our LORD does not come from our self-determination, but He purchased it on the cross.

– “All the plans of the LORD stands firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11). God has written down the course of history from the beginning to the end. All his plans will happen, stand firm forever. Everything originates from Christ and returning to Christ, and the details for everything on its way returning to him is fixed and unchangeable (see also Heb 1:2-3, Rom 11:36). God does not make mistakes. God is not a God who is good in cleaning up mess created by men and coming up with plan B. Nobody can frustrate nor thwart nor prevent God from doing anything he wants, Dan 4:35, “All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?'”

– “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God has written down not only the entire course of history before the foundations of the world, but also the scenario of each individual who ever lives, past present and future. This is good for believers for two reasons (but may cause free-willers to feel dejected because they don’t desire God to make the call for them, they desire to make the call themselves). First, it teaches humility that you and I are creatures and God is God. We have absolutely no right over ourselves because we don’t own ourselves, God does. Secondly, this is good news because God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Therefore whatever plans he has for us can be guaranteed to be the most absolute best for our good and the magnifying his name first and most importantly (see Rom 8:28).

– “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11). God is free to do anything he wants according to the pleasure of his will. His decision making is not constrained by anything, not by the will of men, not by the wills of angels, not by the will of the devil. He is absolutely free in making any calls. Isn’t this what it means to be God? If God has to submit beforehand in his foreknowledge to men’s decision to be saved or not to be saved, then men are gods, and God is their lackey.

A question then arises, “How, despite crystal clear words from the apostle that believers are slaves of Christ (e.g., Rom 6:18,22), can there be such an arrogant doctrine as the autonomous self in Christian churches?” The answer is because the LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely good, gracious, merciful, patient, loving Master. He is not a hard Master at all. Men, seizing this opportunity arising from their deep-rooted corruption inherited from the Fall, reinforced by the temptation of the old serpent, abuse the kindness of Christ for their own glory. Men, out of their odious mind resulting from the stench infected to them from the Fall, distort the grace of the Savior to serve their own vanity, and so distort the message of the gospel, that is the pursue of God’s (not men’s) glory in salvation through Christ. Since Christ is so patient, then it is their opportunity to question him, to hold him accountable to them, and thus, what John Piper pointed out [8], that men placing themselves on the bench and putting God in the dock, instead of the other way around (he actually quoted this from C.S. Lewis). I sense free-willers would feel uncomfortable in hearing what God’s goal is in everything he does in Eph 1:5-6, “… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” that God saves men not because he makes so much of them, but for the praise of his glorious grace, that his name may be magnified, cherished, worshipped for his great mercy upon mankind, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom 15:9). The only way to cure this discomfort is to acknowledge and repent of the pride and the self-idolatrous spirit behind the doctrine of autonomous self, renounce it, and embrace the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified. Amen.

References
1. J. Owen, “The Holy Spirit,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 76-77.

2. R.C. Sproul, “Chosen by God,” Tyndale House Publishers, October 1986, Ch. 3, p.?

3. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 234, 153.

4. J. Piper, “Woe to Those who Trample the Son of God,” Desiring God Ministries (audio), April 13, 1997, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…he_Son_of_God/

5. M. Talbot, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do Us,” Desiring God National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, October 7-9, 2005.

6. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 239.

7. A. Sutono, “The Defense for the Sovereignty of God in the Fall of Man,” Nov 25, 2006.

8. J. Piper, “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election,” Desiring God Ministries, Nov 30, 2003, ttp://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…e_of_Election/

ttp://www.christianchatforum.com/articles/elect.shtml

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Healing the economy means going beyond ‘What’s in it for me?’
By Douglas Todd 01-10-2009

Healing the battered economy means going beyond the ‘self’; ‘What’s in it for me?’ is not an attitude that will work in the times we face

Many Pentecostal Christians have been among the hardest-hit victims of the economic meltdown in North America.

“Victims” might not be the best word to describe their fate, though. Followers of the popular “Prosperity gospel” suffered because of their own desperation, naivete and uncontrolled desire.

Prosperity gospel adherents have put too much stock in certain Pentecostal leaders in the United States and Canada who preach that God will provide worldly wealth if you just give your soul to Jesus Christ and your donation to the church.

The most prominent proponent of this theology of cars, boats and houses is Joel Osteen, author of Your Best Life Now.

With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers.

Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford. However, it’s not only adherents of the Prosperity gospel who have spiritual and moral lessons to draw from the financial collapse. After all, they haven’t been alone in their struggles.

The larger spiritual themes behind this financial meltdown are those of too much blind optimism about the financial system, too much faith in leaders and too much unacknowledged self-interest.

Which brings us to greed.

There can be benefits from modest amounts of each of the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, lust, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony and greed.

While there is something to be said for moderate self-interest fuelling our lives and the economy, greed has careened beyond control on many economic fronts. In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was not much of an exaggeration of a real-life financier when he baldly preached, “Greed is good!”

Rebecca Blank, senior economic analyst for the Brookings Institute and co-author of Is the Market Moral?, recently said: “Greed is good to most economists. It’s greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow. Greed has certain economic advantages. It’s hard for an economist not to say that.

“But greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. There’s a level beyond which greed can go too far, and . . . being greedy for more goods and to make another buck can make me stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you. That is when greed clearly becomes sinful — even, I think, in economics.”

Moral concerns about our over-avaricious attitudes have even been expressed recently by high-profile evangelical Christian leaders such as Chuck Colson (Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man), who has made a career of praising Jesus Christ in the same breath as free enterprise. Like theologian Michael Novak, Colson believes western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint. “Take away moral restraint and the stool collapses.”

But Colson’s solution — simply to talk more about morality in churches and elsewhere and to wish for greater moral behaviour — won’t make the economic system more stable or fair. That is what was uncovered through a revealing investigation of the moral behaviour of evangelical leaders by scholar Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Lindsay found precious few evangelical executives were “distinguishing themselves from their secular peers” by taking salaries capped, for instance, at a ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employees of 20:1. Most tried to justify astonishingly luxurious salaries.

Just as the Communist Soviet Union fell apart because it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to embrace the principle of equality, the western capitalist system cannot sustain itself just by hoping everyone will embrace justice.

Without regulations to enforce society’s moral ideals, the scoundrels prevail. Now nearly all of us are suffering because we were drawn, knowingly and unknowingly, into their unrestricted avarice.

As Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Spiritual insight into the economic collapse comes from Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago Divinity School, one of the most distinguished religious historians in North America.

Marty believes the economic meltdown grew out of a growing global obsession with the “self.” He points to the way many economists talk about how the “spreading disease” in the global economy will “self-heal.” But Marty believes the modern free world is fixated on terms such as “self-generating,” “self-developing” and “self-correcting.” It’s the kind of thinking that has led many to over-optimistically advocate for an “unfettered” and “unregulated” market that never impinges on the supremacy of the “self.”

But there are crucial limits to the “self.”

Marty suggests Americans (and, I’d add, many Canadians) haven’t been willing to face the dark, shadow aspects of an economic system and foreign policy that focused on serving only the “self” (including that of the nation).

Just as the Iraq war has proved disastrous on human and financial fronts, Marty says the battered economy is making us look at all aspects of what happens when “the self” is glorified as absolute.

“We are well aware of our own virtue, knowledge, power and security, and these are real enough to be celebrated,” he writes.

“But we did not recognize their undersides: vice, ignorance, weakness and insecurity, which overtook us.”

As a Lutheran, Marty responds to the financial crisis with a secular translation of the “body of Christ” theme, which teaches us to reflect on how “we are members one of another.”

Instead of “self-healing,” he wisely suggests the western economic system needs “mutual” healing.

To use the language of other traditions, a Buddhist might say we need economic solutions that recognize we are all interconnected.

In secular terms, the late American political philosopher John Rawls would teach that we need economic policies beneficial to us all, no matter where we find ourselves on the financial ladder.

The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, “What’s in it for me?”

dtodd@vancouversun.com

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/10/healing-the-battered-economy-means-going-beyond-the-self-what-s-in-it-for-me-is-not-an-attitude-that-will-work-in-the-times-we-face.aspx

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Does God Want You To Be Rich?

A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors. By DAVID VAN BIEMA, JEFF CHU Posted Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448,00.html

When George Adams lost his job at an Ohio tile factory last October, the most practical thing he did, he thinks, was go to a new church, even though he had to move his wife and four preteen boys to Conroe, a suburb of Houston, to do it. Conroe, you see, is not far from Lakewood, the home church of megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen.

Osteen’s relentlessly upbeat television sermons had helped Adams, 49, get through the hard times, and now Adams was expecting the smiling, Texas-twanged 43-year-old to help boost him back toward success. And Osteen did. Inspired by the preacher’s insistence that one of God’s top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime–and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less–Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work. He didn’t have entry-level aspirations: “God has showed me that he doesn’t want me to be a run-of-the-mill person,” he explains. He demanded to know what the dealership’s top salesmen made–and got the job. Banishing all doubt–“You can’t sell a $40,000-to-$50,000 car with menial thoughts”–Adams took four days to retail his first vehicle, a Ford F-150 Lariat with leather interior. He knew that many fellow salesmen don’t notch their first score until their second week. “Right now, I’m above average!” he exclaims. “It’s a new day God has given me! I’m on my way to a six-figure income!” The sales commission will help with this month’s rent, but Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: “Twenty-five acres,” he says. “And three bedrooms. We’re going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle.”

“I’m dreaming big–because all of heaven is dreaming big,” Adams continues. “Jesus died for our sins. That was the best gift God could give us,” he says. “But we have something else. Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.” In support of this alarming prediction, he forcefully contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: “For what profit is it to a man,” he asks, “if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” It is one of the New Testament’s hardest teachings, yet generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian, on some level, means being ready to sacrifice–money, autonomy or even their lives.

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

“Prosperity” first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals. But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming. Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three–Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta–are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes’ ministry has many more facets). While they don’t exclusively teach that God’s riches want to be in believers’ wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen’s 4 million–selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston’s other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen’s: “Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they’re offering.”

The movement’s renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen’s by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, he snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”

The brickbats–both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)–come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Prosperity’s defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. They caution against broad-brushing a wide spectrum that ranges from pastors who crassly solicit sky’s-the-limit financial offerings from their congregations to those whose services tend more toward God-fueled self-help. Advocates note Prosperity’s racial diversity–a welcome exception to the American norm–and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity. And they see in it a happy corrective for Christians who are more used to being chastened for their sins than celebrated as God’s children. “Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.” If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

As with almost any important religious question, the first response of most Christians (especially Protestants) is to ask how Scripture treats the topic. But Scripture is not definitive when it comes to faith and income. Deuteronomy commands believers to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth”, and the rest of the Old Testament is dotted with celebrations of God’s bestowal of the good life. On at least one occasion–the so-called parable of the talents (a type of coin)–Jesus holds up savvy business practice (investing rather than saving) as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Yet he spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”; and his encounter with the “rich young ruler” who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Both statements can be read as more nuanced than they at first may seem. In each case it is not wealth itself that disqualifies but the inability to understand its relative worthlessness compared with the riches of heaven. The same thing applies to Paul’s famous line, “Money is the root of all evil,” in his first letter to Timothy. The actual quote is, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

So the Bible leaves plenty of room for a discussion on the role, positive or negative, that money should play in the lives of believers. But it’s not a discussion that many pastors are willing to have. “Jesus’ words about money don’t make us very comfortable, and people don’t want to hear about it,” notes Collin Hansen, an editor at the evangelical monthly Christianity Today. Pastors are happy to discuss from the pulpit hot-button topics like sex and even politics. But the relative absence of sermons about money–which the Bible mentions several thousand times–is one of the more stunning omissions in American religion, especially among its white middle-class precincts. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow says much of the U.S. church “talks about giving but does not talk about the broader financial concerns people have, or the pressures at work. There has long been a taboo on talking candidly about money.”

In addition to personal finances, a lot of evangelical churches have also avoided any pulpit talk about social inequality. When conservative Christianity split from the Mainline in the early 20th century, the latter pursued their commitment to the “social gospel” by working on poverty and other causes such as civil rights and the Vietnam-era peace movement. Evangelicals went the other way: they largely concentrated on issues of individual piety. “We took on personal salvation–we need our sins redeemed, and we need our Saviour,” says Warren. But “some people tended to go too individualistic, and justice and righteousness issues were overlooked.”

A recent Sunday at Lakewood gives some idea of the emphasis on worldly gain that disturbs Warren. Several hundred stage lights flash on, and Osteen, his gigawatt smile matching them, strides onto the stage of what used to be the Compaq Center sports arena but is now his church. “Let’s just celebrate the goodness of the Lord!” Osteen yells. His wife Victoria says, “Our Daddy God is the strongest! He’s the mightiest!”

And so it goes, before 14,000 attendees, a nonstop declaration of God’s love and his intent to show it in the here and now, sometimes verging on the language of an annual report. During prayer, Osteen thanks God for “your unprecedented favor. We believe that 2006 will be our best year so far. We declare it by faith.” Today’s sermon is about how gratitude can “save a marriage, save your job [and] get you a promotion.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon about money,” he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets’ locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. “Does God want us to be rich?” he asks. “When I hear that word rich, I think people say, ‘Well, he’s preaching that everybody’s going to be a millionaire.’ I don’t think that’s it.” Rather, he explains, “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?” The room’s warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes.

Osteen is a second-generation Prosperity teacher. His father John Osteen started out Baptist but in 1959 withdrew from that fellowship to found a church in one of Houston’s poorer neighborhoods and explore a new philosophy developing among Pentecostals. If the rest of Protestantism ignored finances, Prosperity placed them center stage, marrying Pentecostalism’s ebullient notion of God’s gifts with an older tradition that stressed the power of positive thinking. Practically, it emphasized hard work and good home economics. But the real heat was in its spiritual premise: that if a believer could establish, through word and deed (usually donation), that he or she was “in Jesus Christ,” then Jesus’ father would respond with paternal gifts of health and wealth in this life. A favorite verse is from Malachi: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse … and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘If I will not for you open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” (See boxes.)

It is a peculiarly American theology but turbocharged. If Puritanism valued wealth and Benjamin Franklin wrote about doing well by doing good, hard-core Prosperity doctrine, still extremely popular in the hands of pastors like Atlanta megachurch minister Creflo Dollar, reads those Bible verses as a spiritual contract. God will pay back a multiple (often a hundredfold) on offerings by the congregation. “Poor people like Prosperity,” says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. “They hear it as aspirant. They hear, ‘You can make it too–buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.’ It can function as a form of liberation.” It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as “another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money.”

In the past decade, however, the new generation of preachers, like Osteen, Meyer and Houston’s Methodist megapastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, who gave the benediction at both of George W. Bush’s Inaugurals, have repackaged the doctrine. Gone are the divine profit-to-earnings ratios, the requests for offerings far above a normal 10% tithe (although many of the new breed continue to insist that congregants tithe on their pretax rather than their net income). What remains is a materialism framed in a kind of Tony Robbins positivism. No one exemplifies this better than Osteen, who ran his father’s television-production department until John died in 1999. “Joel has learned from his dad, but he has toned it back and tapped into basic, everyday folks’ ways of talking,” says Ben Phillips, a theology professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. “To live your best life now,” it opens, to see “your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass …” you must “start looking at life through eyes of faith.” Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion, Resurrection or Atonement. There are chapters on overcoming trauma and a late chapter on emulating God’s generosity. (And indeed, Osteen’s church gave more than $1 million in relief money after Hurricane Katrina.) But there are many more illustrations of how the Prosperity doctrine has produced personal gain, most memorably, perhaps, for the Osteen family: how Victoria’s “speaking words of faith and victory” eventually brought the couple their dream house; how Joel discerned God’s favor in being bumped from economy to business class.

Confronting such stories, certain more doctrinally traditional Christians go ballistic. Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that “we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health–it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life’s problems.” Respected blogger Michael Spencer–known as the Internet Monk–asked, “How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He’s not. He’s not one of us.” Osteen is an irresistible target for experts from right to left on the Christian spectrum who–beyond worrying that he is living too high or inflating the hopes of people with real money problems–think he is dragging people down with a heavy interlocked chain of theological and ethical errors that could amount to heresy.

Most start out by saying that Osteen and his ilk have it “half right”: that God’s goodness is biblical, as is the idea that he means us to enjoy the material world. But while Prosperity claims to be celebrating that goodness, the critics see it as treating God as a celestial ATM. “God becomes a means to an end, not the end in himself,” says Southwestern Baptist’s Phillips. Others are more upset about what it de-emphasizes. “[Prosperity] wants the positive but not the negative,” says another Southern Baptist, Alan Branch of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “Problem is, we live on this side of Eden. We’re fallen.” That is, Prosperity soft-pedals the consequences of Adam’s fall–sin, pain and death–and their New Testament antidote: Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the importance of repentance. And social liberals express a related frustration that preachers like Osteen show little interest in battling the ills of society at large. Perhaps appropriately so, since, as Prosperity scholar Harrison explains, “philosophically, their main way of helping the poor is encouraging people not to be one of them.”

Most unnerving for Osteen’s critics is the suspicion that they are fighting not just one idiosyncratic misreading of the gospel but something more daunting: the latest lurch in Protestantism’s ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that “you don’t have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God’s blessing,” says Edith Blumhofer, director of Wheaton College’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals. Indeed, a last-gasp resistance to this embrace of wealth and comfort can be observed in the current evangelical brawl over whether comfortable megachurches (like Osteen’s and Warren’s) with pumped-up day-care centers and high-tech amenities represent a slide from glorifying an all-powerful God to asking what custom color you would prefer he paint your pews. “The tragedy is that Christianity has become a yes-man for the culture,” says Boston University’s Prothero.

Non-prosperity parties from both conservative and more progressive evangelical camps recently have been trying to reverse the trend. Eastern University professor Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a fringe classic after its publication in 1977, is selling far more copies now, and some young people are even acting on its rather radical prescriptions: a sprinkling of Protestant groups known loosely as the New Monastics is experimenting with the kind of communal living among the poor that had previously been the province of Catholic orders. Jim Wallis, longtime leader of one such community in Washington and the editor of Sojourners magazine, has achieved immense exposure lately with his pleas that Evangelicals engage in more political activism on behalf of the poor.

And then there is Warren himself, who by virtue of his energy, hypereloquence and example (he’s working in Rwanda with government, business and church sectors) has become a spokesman for church activism. “The church is the largest network in the world,” he says. “If you have 2.3 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ, that’s bigger than China.”

And despite Warren’s disdain for Prosperity’s theological claims, some Prosperity churches have become players in the very faith-based antipoverty world he inhabits, even while maintaining their distinctive theology. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who pastors Windsor Village, the largest (15,000) United Methodist church in the country, can sound as Prosperity as the next pastor: “Jesus did not die and get up off the Cross so we could live lives full of despair and disappointment,” he says. He quotes the “abundant life” verse with all earnestness, even giving it a real estate gloss: “It is unscriptural not to own land,” he announces. But he’s doing more than talk about it. He recently oversaw the building of Corinthian Pointe, a 452-unit affordable-housing project that he claims is the largest residential subdivision ever built by a nonprofit. Most of its inhabitants, he says, are not members of his church.

Caldwell knows that prosperity is a loaded term in evangelical circles. But he insists that “it depends on how you define prosperity. I am not a proponent of saying the Lord’s name three times, clicking your heels and then you get what you ask for. But you cannot give what you do not have. We are fighting what we call the social demons. If I am going to help someone, I am going to have to have something with which to help.”

Caldwell knows that the theology behind this preacherly rhetoric will never be acceptable to Warren or Sider or Witherington. But the man they all follow said, “By their fruits you will know them,” and for some, Corinthian Pointe is a very convincing sort of fruit. Hard-line Prosperity theology may always seem alien to those with enough money to imagine making more without engaging God in a kind of spiritual quid pro quo. And Osteen’s version, while it abandons part of that magical thinking, may strike some as self-centered rather than God centered. But American Protestantism is a dynamic faith. Caldwell’s version reminds us that there is no reason a giving God could not invest even an awkward and needy creed with a mature and generous heart. If God does want us to be rich in this life, no doubt it’s this richness in spirit that he is most eager for us to acquire.

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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

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.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row
Difficulties of high-profile pastors may reorient movement—or reinforce it.
Bobby Ross Jr. | posted 1/15/2009 09:40AM

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/2.12.html

Some of the high-flying icons of the prosperity gospel—the belief that God rewards signs of faith with wealth, health, and happiness—have run into financial turbulence.

Not all of their troubles can be blamed on the nation’s economic crisis, say critics of the name-it-and-claim-it theology found in some charismatic churches.

“I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul,” said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. “God is shaking us.” Grady predicts the movement will look much different in a few years as it refocuses on evangelism and overcoming what he calls the distraction of “materialism, flashy self-promotion, and foolish carnality.” But Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches, is not so certain.

“Most clergy who preach a prosperity gospel would interpret for their congregation any conflict, scrutiny, or questioning as an attack of the Devil and proof that they are following God,” he said.

Among recent developments:

• In Fort Worth, Texas, a review board ruled December 7 that Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ $3.6 million jet did not have tax-exempt status. The ruling came after the ministry, whose 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion, refused to release the salaries of Copeland, his wife, and others.

• In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, a sheriff’s deputy served an eviction notice November 14 at Bishop Thomas Weeks III’s Global Destiny Church. Court documents indicate the bishop, the ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum, owed half a million dollars in back rent. The church has lost roughly half of its 3,400 members since Weeks and Bynum’s 2007 fight in a hotel parking lot, in which Weeks was accused of pushing, choking, and beating his then-wife.

• In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church—which once attracted 23,000 worshipers—has shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 they were divorcing. The church faces an uncertain future after the Evangelical Christian Credit Union began foreclosure proceedings November 4 and demanded repayment of a $12 million loan on the church’s property.

• In suburban Minneapolis on November 18, Living Word Christian Center pastor Mac Hammond won the first stage of a court battle with the Internal Revenue Service to keep his salary private. Yet in 2008, he was forced to put his private jet up for sale and cut Living Word’s hour-long television show in half to save money amid falling contributions.
Meanwhile, Copeland and the Whites are among six televangelists whose large organizations have been targeted in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into allegations of questionable spending and lax financial accountability. All six preach some form of the prosperity gospel.

Could followers of the prosperity gospel—encouraged by pastors to “sow a seed” of faith by spending money, often in the form of a donation to the pastors’ ministries—be turned off by the recent turmoil?

Craig Blomberg, author of a 2001 study of prosperity theology, said he expects the movement to “take a small hit among those who recognize that it can’t deliver on what it promises.”

But many followers could view the financial difficulties as consequences for sin and personal failings—from Weeks’s assault conviction to the Whites’ divorce—and determine to try that much harder to please God and prosper themselves, he suggested.

“Some may well interpret this as judgment on the leaders who have abused their positions or proved immoral in other respects,” said Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary. “And many may simply assume this is the time to call others and themselves to an even truer faith so that the ‘system will work’ as it is supposed to in their minds.”

In Grady’s view, the notion that “God blesses us so we can be a blessing” is biblical. What is needed, he believes, is a shift to a more selfless movement where people “realize that God wants to bless us so that we can feed the poor, lift up the broken, and transform society.

“We need that kind of prosperity,” he said, “and I think that is where things are going.”

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Is the Prosperity Gospel Financial Heresy?
By Mr. ToughMoneyLove | October 5, 2008

Mr. ToughMoneyLove tends to avoid mixing religion and personal finance for a variety of reasons. However, I am going to make a very brief exception to that policy this Sunday.

This week Time ran a story on the possible role of the “prosperity gospel” in the sub-prime mortgage mess that has played a significant role in the current economic crisis. I certainly don’t agree with the premise that God should be blamed for what has happened. But the article makes an interesting anecdotal review of how believers in the prosperity gospel could be led to accept that divine intervention would prevail over their lack of financial resources. According to the prosperity preacher, that belief is enough to put the believer in a home he or she cannot afford. I think we can all agree that there is no logic to that belief. On the other hand, religion is based on faith, not logic.

I submit that are two hard truth takeaways from this story. First, the “prosperity gospel” is really intended to bring economic prosperity to those who preach it, not to those who listen to it. Second, an all too common rationalization offered by broke people when they make yet another discretionary purchase is that they “deserve” that car or gadget or vacation. The prosperity gospel reinforces that misguided rationalization and gives it another dimension. Just as I believe that poor people are not being punished by God, I also believe that wealth on earth is not bestowed based on spiritual merit.

What do you think about the prosperity gospel as a contributor to current economic conditions?

http://toughmoneylove.com/2008/10/05/is-the-prosperity-gospel-financial-heresy/

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Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess
By David Van Biema Friday, Oct. 03, 2008

TIME.com

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 at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending 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.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “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.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the Bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, the theology can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are “worthy of having more and doing more and being more.” In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade’s worth of ever easier credit acted like a drug in Prosperity’s bloodstream. “The economic boom ’90s and financial overextensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the Prosperity message,” he wrote recently on his personal blog as well as on the website Religion Dispatches. And not positively. “Narratives of how ‘God blessed me with my first house despite my credit’ were common. Sermons declaring ‘It’s your season to overflow’ supplanted messages of economic sobriety,” and “little attention was paid to … the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations.”

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that Prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and they are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants’ fortunes. Says Walton: “You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology.” But he predicts they will persevere, since God’s earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recent publicly posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God, near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation — it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on Scriptural promises of God. But the believer’s note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. “Last Sunday,” it read, “You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1,020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace.”

And pray that the credit market doesn’t tighten any further.

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1847053,00.html?cnn=yes

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Understanding Word-Faith Teaching
by Rob Bowman

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Once upon a time, long long ago, on a faraway planet, there lived a good God. . . . Because Jesus was recreated from a satanic being to an incarnation of God, you too can become an incarnation – as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth! And, as an incarnation of God, you can have unlimited health and unlimited wealth – a palace like the Taj Mahal with a Rolls Royce in your driveway. You are a little messiah running around on earth! All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.

Hank Hanegraaff (summarizing the Word-Faith teaching)

It seems our friends, the book writers, have invented an entirely new theology called the “born again Jesus” built upon a conglomeration of quotations taken from 6 or 7 ministers, pulled out of context and combined as though we all believed identically the same thing or were even speaking about the same subject when quoted (which, in some cases, we were not). And the reader is told we all believe this “born again Jesus” theology, believe exactly alike about it, and we’re all heretics. Yet I am diametrically opposed to some of the doctrines held by those who are quoted on the same page as me! Kenneth E. Hagin

He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13

If we are to evaluate the Word-Faith teaching, we first need to understand it. As Solomon counseled, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). We need to grasp the Word-Faith theology as a whole and understand how it all fits together from the perspective of the Word-Faith teachers if we are to make an intelligent decision as to whether it is biblical. Moreover, we need to look at the movement from all sides and consider it from every relevant angle in order to make our assessment as complete and balanced as possible. In this chapter I will set forth an agenda for such a complete assessment and then explain the Word-Faith teaching in order to make its basic message understandable.

The Roots, Shoots, and Fruits

A complete evaluation of any movement’s teachings requires that we look at three aspects of the teachings, which may be called the roots, shoots, and fruits of a doctrine.

Exposing the Roots
The roots of a doctrine are the sources or origins of the teachings. Did the ideas come from the Bible? Did they come from the biblically based teaching of a sound Christian teacher? Did they come from a source that is clearly cultic or non-Christian? Or did they come from a mixture of all three types of sources? If certain ideas can be traced to non-Christian or cultic roots, how were these ideas transferred?

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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An examination of the “roots” of a teaching is never sufficient by itself, because non-Christians, after all, can express truths and can have genuine insights. It is perfectly fine for a Christian teacher to “plunder the Egyptians” by taking over ideas or formulations found in non-Christian thought and putting them into a soundly Christian context. So we must be careful not to argue that a particular doctrine is false merely because a cultist or other non-Christian advocated it. In logic this is called the genetic fallacy – attempting to dismiss an idea on the basis of its genesis, or origin.

William DeArteaga, in his book defending the Word-Faith movement, claims that Daniel R. McConnell’s critique of the Word-Faith teaching commits the “genetic fallacy” by arguing that “Hagin derived his teachings from Kenyon, who in turn was associated with the Metaphysical movement.” DeArteaga calls this error “the pharisaical objection of origins,” referring to his belief that the Pharisees erred by rejecting any workings of the Spirit that contradicted their theology or which they could not explain. This is an odd theory: the Pharisees never criticized Jesus’ teachings for supposedly deriving from a suspect source (say, that Jesus got his ideas from the pagan Greeks). They did accuse him of having a demon (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20), but this is a “genetic” argument of a very different sort! Setting aside this strange reference to the Pharisees, DeArteaga’s criticism overlooks the fact that McConnell explicitly denies trying to discredit the Word-Faith teaching by a simple exposé of its origins:

The historical origins of the Faith movement are not enough, however, to justify the charge of cultism. That would be an example of theological guilt by mere historical association. To prove cultism requires that it be demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the beliefs and practices of the contemporary Faith movement (not just those of Kenyon) are both cultic and heretical.. . . The Faith movement is cubic not just because of where it comes from. but also because of what it teaches.

DeArteaga elsewhere shows that he does take the question of the origins of the Word-Faith teaching to be relevant. In answer to McConnell, he argues that Kenyon’s doctrines of revelation – knowledge and of the Christian life are not really Gnostic at all but are instead rooted in the theology of the apostle Paul.

If the genetic fallacy is to be avoided, then why examine the roots at all? There are two reasons for doing so. First, sometimes teachers will misrepresent the source of their teachings in order to exaggerate their own originality or because the true sources are a potential embarrassment to them. In some cases professing Christian teachers have been known to plagiarize whole sermons or books from various cultic or questionable sources. Obviously, if they pass off as new insights or revelations from God ideas that they actually lifted word for word from a non-Christian or cultic writer, this constitutes a serious problem. Exposing these teachers’ lack of honesty in this area serves its own purpose independent of evaluating the teachings themselves.

Here again, DeArteaga argues that McConnell has criticized Kenneth Hagin unjustly by accusing him of plagiarism. According to DeArteaga, “McConnell also accuses Hagin of passing off his theology as pure ‘revelation knowledge’ without any credits to human sources” (emphasis added). DeArteaga points to the preface of The Name of Jesus in which Hagin acknowledges drawing on Kenyon’s The Wonderful Name of Jesus as proof that McConnell is wrong. Yet McConnell himself quotes Hagin’s preface and comments, “This is one of the few candid, direct acknowledgments of Kenyon to appear in any of Hagin’s writings.” McConnell also observes that “Hagin demonstrates the ability to give credit where credit is due with regard to the sources that he drew on to develop a particular idea,” except concerning those sources from which he plagiarized extensively. His contention is simply that Hagin’s repeated, massive plagiarism of the writings of Kenyon, along with those of John A. MacMillan, demonstrate that Hagin’s claim to have learned the Word-Faith teaching directly from visitations and revelations from God is patently false. DeArteaga’s criticisms of McConnell in this matter are not cogent.

Second, identifying the source of someone’s questionable doctrines can aid us in pinpointing the real problems in those doctrines. If certain doctrinal errors have been taught before and have been answered by sound Christian teachers, then finding these antecedents can be very helpful in identifying and refuting the errors. Discovering the true roots of the Word-Faith teaching, once it is shown to be unbibilcal and damaging to authentic Christian faith, will then aid us in getting to the core of the problem. It will also enable us to be better on guard against similar errors in the future.

Again, we do not expose the roots of a doctrine to prove it false. We examine the roots to help us diagnose the problems and prescribe a cure.

Examining the Shoots
The second aspect of any doctrine is the substance or idea of the doctrine itself. This is what for convenience I call the shoots, though it would be more precise to talk about the trunk and branches. More technically, the shoots of a doctrine are the doctrine itself as a doctrine – what the doctrine says in theory and the arguments or reasons given in its support.

Most of the time, we identify a tree by its shoots. That is, we can usually tell what sort of a tree it is simply by looking at its overall appearance as shaped primarily by its trunk and branches. A quick glance at the shoots of a fir tree is enough to determine that it is not an oak.

Examining doctrines is often not as easy, of course, because doctrines are not tangible entities that can be perceived with a single glance. What we purpose to do in examining a doctrine, though, is not merely to identify it but also to evaluate its soundness and strength. When examining a tree, for example, we would check various branches to see if they are strong and well connected to the trunk. If there was some doubt about the health of the tree, we might cut through the bark to examine the interior of the wood. When examining a doctrine, we would test its soundness and strength by examining the reasoning used to support the conclusion and seeing if that reasoning is firmly based on the Bible.

Examining the shoots, then, comes down to comparing the contemporary teachings with the teachings of the Bible. The Word-Faith teachers tend to resist this kind of critical examination, offering various reasons why their teachings should not be critiqued. I have evaluated these objections to doctrinal discernment in Orthodoxy and Heresy. Here I will point out simply that this sort of study is strongly encouraged in the Bible itself (see Matt. 22:29; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). It is the basic method used by Christians throughout the centuries to test novel and controversial teachings as they have arisen in the church.

Looking at the Fruits
The third and final aspect of testing a doctrine is to look at its fruit. This test is perhaps the best known because of the words of Jesus regarding false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20). Unfortunately these words are among the most abused words in Scripture. They are all too commonly cited to prove that testing someone’s teachings by comparing them with Scripture is either unnecessary or illegitimate. Yet this claim is itself a doctrine that people try to prove by citing Scripture!

What Jesus says here is absolutely true: One can know a false prophet by his or her “fruits.” We need to ask, though, what is included, and what is not, in these fruits. One thing Jesus makes very clear in the context is that prophetic utterances and miracles are not included (Matt. 7:22). This is important because Word-Faith teachers and those who support them often point to stories of healings, apparent supernatural revelations, and other amazing incidents as proof that God has blessed their ministry. But Jesus specifically excludes such things from the “fruits” by which we would be able to tell a false prophet from a true one.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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On the other hand, Jesus does not discourage testing doctrines by comparing them with Scripture. Indeed, his focus is not on the truth or falsity of a particular doctrine but on the divine calling of a professed prophet. The purpose of the test is to tell apart true and false prophets, both of whom seem to speak in the name of the Lord (Matt. 7:21-22). The implication is that a true prophet must represent the Lord truly both in word and in action. Thus the point here is not that true prophets can say anything they want as long as their outward lives are good. Rather, it is that a prophet is false if his fruit is evil, no matter how good or true his words seem to be.

A short while later in the same passage, Jesus contrasts the wise person with the foolish person. The wise person acts on Jesus’ words, while the foolish person fails to do so (Matt. 7:24-27). The implication is that one may and should compare people’s actions to the words of Jesus to see whether their actions are wise or foolish.

One bad fruit that is always produced by false prophets is confusion and division. When false prophets come along and teach false doctrines or make false claims, it is their fault when confusion and division ensue. It is certainly not the fault of those who oppose their unbiblical teachings.

The sum of the matter is this. The test Jesus sets forth in Matthew 7 is intended to expose false prophets. It is not the only such test, but it is a valid and crucial test. It cannot be used to avoid responsibility to teach doctrine that is faithful to the same Bible in which this test appears. False and unsound doctrine always contradicts biblical doctrine and results in bad fruit.

On Defining the Word-Faith Teaching

Before explaining the Word-Faith teaching, I need to say some things about the approach taken here. In discussing this subject with advocates of the Word-Faith teaching and with its critics, I have learned that how one approaches the discussion virtually determines whether communication and understanding will ever take place.

Is There a “Word Faith Teaching”?
Some people object to any critique of the “Word-Faith teaching” on two grounds. First, it is sometimes said that the Word-Faith teachers are evangelists, healers, prophets, or pastors, not teachers or theologians, and that they should not be judged as if they were theologians. Second, it has been argued that the critics of the Word-Faith movement have created a straw-man “Word-Faith teaching” from statements taken out of context or shoe-horned into a theology that none of the Word-Faith teachers espouse. We are told that the Word-Faith teachers differ markedly on a number of doctrinal points, so that the doctrine attributed to them as a group is an artificial construct of the critics’ own imagination.

It is, of course, true that none of the Word-Faith teachers is a systematic theologian or even a methodical teacher whose theological “system” is easily encapsulated from his writings. This does not mean, however, that the Word-Faith leaders are not teachers. Whatever they may see as their primary calling, when they regularly present teaching on matters of Christian belief, they make themselves teachers. It is silly to say that individual – articles, and disseminate video and audiotapes of their messages on doctrinal topics are not teachers.

In any case, at least some of these men do claim to be teachers. Kenneth Hagin, who claims that his primary calling is to the ministry of a prophet, also claims to serve in the ministry of a teacher. Thus it is perfectly appropriate to hold the Word-Faith teachers to a higher standard of doctrinal accuracy than we do persons in ministry who do not presume to teach doctrine (James 3:1).

As for the second objection, it simply is not true that the Word-Faith teachers have no theological system. The lack of a formal Word-Faith “systematic theology” does not mean that there is no structural or thematic unity in their teaching. If a Word-Faith teacher’s teaching is at all coherent or consistent, it should be possible to systematize his teachings in order to bring out its coherence and essential ideas. If such systematization is not possible, it only goes to show that his teaching is chaotic and therefore that he is a poor teacher.

Kenneth Hagin has complained that the theology attributed to him and other Word-Faith teachers is an invention of the critics (see the quotation at the beginning of this chapter). Hagin’s objection has some justice, but the legitimate point he is making should not be exaggerated. There is a core of doctrinal teaching that makes the Word-Faith movement distinctive and identifiable, a core of teaching to which the Word-Faith televangelists generally subscribe and that sets them apart from other Christian traditions. I agree that some of the critics of the Word-Faith teachers have erred in superimposing on the Word-Faith movement a greater degree of unity than is actually there. But the error of this extreme does not justify the opposite extreme of denying any distinctive doctrinal unity in the movement.

In this chapter, then, I will attempt to state that core theology of the Word-Faith movement. It may be that some Word-Faith advocates will disagree somewhat with the way their doctrine is presented here, but I believe that overall this presentation of the Word-Faith theology is accurate and representative of their teachings.

How Shall the Word-Faith Teaching Be Defined?
It is easy to make the Word-Faith doctrine sound silly or absurd. Indeed, one can do so by just stringing together a number of the more colorful statements that have been made by Word-Faith teachers. When critics of the movement do this and then fill in the gaps with their own interpretative embellishments, the result is a caricature.

This is the problem, as I see it, with the way in which the Word-Faith teaching is represented in the section titled “Once Upon a Time . . .” in Hank Hanegraaff’s Christianity in Crisis. Hanegraaff himself makes the following admission in a prefatory note in very small print:

The following tale is a composite of the erroneous teachings of individuals like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others. While not all the Faith teachers hold to every aspect of this tale, they have all made substantial contributions to both the production and the proliferation of these aberrations and heresies. (emphasis added)
What Hanegraaff fails to acknowledge, unfortunately, is that none of the Word-Faith teachers “holds to every aspect of this tale.” The “composite” fails to represent accurately the views of any of the Word-Faith teachers, because none of them holds to the whole thing. Moreover, some of the elements of this “composite” are not held by any of the Word-Faith teachers but are Hanegraaff’s own imaginative and colorful additions. Hanegraaff describes the Word-Faith teachers’ God as hoping to get “lucky.” He describes the Jesus of the Word-Faith teaching as becoming “a satanic being” when he died. He claims that the Word-Faith teaching asserts that Christians can have “a palace like the Taj Mahal. . . . All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.” These descriptions, however, make the Word-Faith movement sound more akin to Eastern religions or the New Age movement than it really is. In truth none of the Word-Faith teachers ever talk this way.

This way of presenting the Word-Faith teaching, while it has shock value, unnecessarily offends those who embrace the Word-Faith teaching. Just as we would not want our beliefs to be misrepresented, we must be careful not to misrepresent the beliefs of those in the Word-Faith movement (Matt. 7:12). When they hear the views of their favorite televangelists being exaggerated or sensationalized, they use that to dismiss out of hand the many valid criticisms of the Word-Faith teaching that critics offer.

We must never lose sight of the fact that many persons do, after all, find in the Word-Faith doctrine a convincing and coherent message. I will therefore be presenting the teaching in such a form as I think a systematically minded advocate of the Word-Faith teaching might articulate it. What I have attempted to do here is to set forth the Word-Faith teaching in the best possible light, focusing on the most prominent and essential aspects of that teaching. This way, what is being refuted is not the worst possible representation of the teaching but the doctrine at its best.

I hasten to add that the more colorful and extreme ideas that have been taught by Word-Faith teachers are certainly, in and of themselves, fair targets for criticism. I will be critiquing some of them in this book. But these more outlandish ideas need to be placed fairly in the context of the Word-Faith teaching.

In order to be as fair to the Word-Faith movement as possible, I will base my exposition of its teaching solely on the words of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Since these two men are the undisputed leaders of the Word-Faith movement, any doctrine to which both of them subscribe may be safely regarded as part of the Word-Faith teaching. With one important exception, I have avoided mentioning in this summary any doctrine taught by only one, and not the other, of these two men. Persons who acknowledge Hagin or Copeland as teachers and who accept the general ideas of the Word-Faith teaching, even if they deviate in one or a few particulars, may also be regarded as part of the Word-Faith movement.

What follows, then, is a summary of the theology of the Word-Faith movement, including the doctrinal issues that will be explored later in this book.

Human Beings Are Spirits

Basic to the Word-Faith theology is a particular understanding of human nature as spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is more real than the physical, according to the Word-Faith teaching, and therefore the spirit is the real person. It is the spirit that is made in God’s image, allowing the Word-Faith teachers to conclude that human beings are exact duplicates of God, or little gods.

Furthermore, it is the spirit to which God communicates (not the mind), and the spirit that is supposed to control the soul and especially the body. The problem with the human race is that we are allowing our bodies to control our lives, or our reason to dictate to our spirits, rather than having our spirits take control over our whole beings. This is fundamental for the Word-Faith teachers, since in their view we should disbelieve our senses when they tell us we are sick or poor, and disbelieve our reason when it tells us that the Word-Faith teaching is illogical or false (see chapter 6).

God and Humanity

According to the Word-Faith teachers, God is much more like a man than Christians generally have supposed. God is a God of faith; he created the world by faith and accomplishes all that he desires by believing in his heart and speaking the word of faith, thereby bringing things into existence (see chapter 7).

There is another respect in which Word-Faith teaching makes God more like a man than is traditionally thought. Although God is in essence a spirit, the Word-Faith teachers hold that God, like human beings, is spirit, soul, and body – albeit a “spirit body” (see chapter 8).

Likewise, the Word-Faith teachers insist that human beings are much more like God than Christians have usually believed. Our creation in God’s image is interpreted to mean that we exist in God’s “class” as the same kind of being as God, though on a smaller scale (as “little gods”). Moreover, the purpose of the coming of Jesus was to restore humanity to godhood by creating a new race of humans who, like Jesus, would be God incarnate (see chapter 9).

Humanity’s potential as little gods was, according to the Word-Faith teaching, thwarted by the fall. Adam forfeited his status as the god of this world by obeying the devil and thereby making Satan the god of this world. In sinning, Adam gave Satan legal dominion over this world and passed Satan’s nature of death, with its corresponding symptoms of sickness and poverty, down to the rest of humanity (see chapter 10).

Jesus Christ

To correct the situation arising from the fall, God, according to Word-Faith theology, implemented a strategy for reclaiming dominion from the devil. The centerpiece of this strategy was his becoming a man. Although Word-Faith teachers affirm that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, their understanding of what this incarnation meant is in some respects highly unusual.

First, all Word-Faith teachers argue that Christians are just as much “incarnations of God” as was Jesus Christ. This implies that “incarnation” in Word-Faith teaching does not mean the same thing it means in traditional Christian usage. Much of what the Word-Faith teachers say suggests that in their view anyone who is indwelled by the Spirit is an incarnation.

Second, Word-Faith teachers are not altogether clear as to whether it was the preexistent, eternal Son of God who became incarnate. Some Word-Faith teachers, such as Hagin, seem to assume this traditional, biblical view. Others, though, notably Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, teach that the Word that became incarnate was God’s Word of promise that he would redeem humanity, and that this Word was “positively confessed” into personal existence by the Virgin Mary (see chapter 11).

The Word-Faith teachers also have a distinctive view of what Christ did to effect our salvation. In their view, what Jesus did that was unique was to die, not merely physically but spiritually as well (thus taking on himself Satan’s nature), and go to hell. There, they say, he was “born again,” rising from the dead with God’s nature (which, it is sometimes implied, he had lost in dying spiritually). By doing so, the Word-Faith teachers argue, Jesus paved the way for us to be born again and exhibit God’s nature in our lives (see chapter 12).

As has already been mentioned, the Word-Faith teachers tend to interpret the incarnation as the prototype of God’s Spirit dwelling in a human being. In this sense, they insist, Christians are as much an incarnation of God as was Jesus Christ. This lends support, in their view, to the claim that all Christians ought to be able to overcome difficulties in their lives and perform miracles in just the same way Jesus did. In principle any of us can do anything that Jesus did on earth (see chapter 13).

Faith, Prayer, and Confession

The distinctive ideas about God and man in Word-Faith theology are the basis for its views on faith and prayer. Faith is not only believing what God says but also believing that we have whatever we say. Prayer is not only speaking to God but also speaking to things and circumstances and commanding them to do as we say. This is the basis for the concept of positive and negative confession, the idea that what we believe and say, whether good or bad, will happen for us (see chapter 14).

On the basis of a positive confession – itself based on faith that we are divine spirits created and redeemed to rule our circumstances by speaking words of faith – Word-Faith theology says we are to obtain health and wealth. Since Christ died to free us from the curse of the law, reason the Word-Faith teachers, this must mean that Christians need no longer accept sickness or poverty in their lives. Christians ought to live in divine health and wealth as testimony to the power of God and as evidence that they are children of God (see chapter 15).

This is the Word-Faith theology to be studied in this book. For the most part, my focus will not be on the personalities who promote these views but on the biblical teachings that are relevant to evaluating the Word-Faith theology. However, in order to understand the teachings fully, we need to consider how they arose and know something about their sources. The next four chapters will deal with just these questions.

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Matthew 9:34 – But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,[4] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

John 7:20 – “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

John 8:48, 52 – The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” – At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.

John 10:20 – Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

Matthew 22:29 – Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Acts 17:11 – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Matthew 7:16, 20 – By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? – Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:21-22 – “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

James 3:1 – Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

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Taken from The Word-Faith Controversy by Rob Bowman. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright 2001. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company. You can purchase The Word-Faith Controversy for a total of $15 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172 .

http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar63.htm

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Word of Faith: Devastating Impact: Casualties

On a personal level, it seems that – in the long term especially – the WOF is devastating. It is devastating to the WOF believers because they have allowed themselves to be led astray and to be spiritually deceived. The presumption that God does not allow his own children to be deceived is obviously false, because in the Bible, Paul and John and Peter are constantly telling those early Christians to pay attention and to watch out that they would not be deceived – because the presumption is that it could happen, and in some cases was happening.

God has given us his Holy Word so that we can use it, and if we know it well, and if we use it often, and as our minds are renewed through the study of His Word, then When we know the teachings of the Bible, and how to defend our faith and identify false teachings, we are much less likely to be deceived.

But the impact of WOF for those who want to come out of it – is almost just as devastating for those who leave WOF (as it is for those who stayed), especially right after they have just left.

Where can a person go ? WHat Church would you send them to ? Who can they find to talk with, not only who will empathize, but who will actually offer them some seriously Biblical advice and genuine assistance ? And where do they start ?

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There are many thousands of walking casualties out there who have no idea how to respond to their WOF experiences: the first half seems to be those who thought that WOF was Christianity (Which it is not) – and who then have rejected Christianity because WOF did not work; the second half seems to be those who are Christians and realize that WOF does not work, and is wrong, and is misguided, but they do not have the practice nor enough spiritual understanding – to understand

1) where the problem is or 2) how to fix it and 3) how to go on from there. And the emotional consequences can be very heavy. For many of those involved, their friends and their Churches are still WOF. So they experience additional isolation from their friends, rather than support and comfort. This may be the price for also having friends not spiritually grounded, but that does not really help much either.

The solution should include books and authors that will talk about their own WOF experiences and help to highlight the contrast between 1) what the Bible says and teaches and 2) what the WOF teaches. All this can take a lot of time.

Another part of the solution seems to try to talk it out, work it out, write it out, and let it out, and to make these things part of the process of learning how to come to terms with WOF teachings and reject them, And THEN – replace those teachings with actual Biblical theology.

The “Soft” Cults

Changing your mind to change your master ?

It used to be that Cults were essentially those who operated using an environment of obvious mind-control, where a person was food-deprived, or sleep-deprived as part of their conditioning.

Cults today are much more sophisticated. Part of the dangers of the WOF movement is that its seduction is not so much what it does to you from the exterior – as much as it is what happens to the interior of the person, who has agreed to subject themselves to the same physical environment as the WOF Teacher.

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There are aspects of the WOF movement that resemble more the beauty and seduction of a “mass movement”, than they resemble the old cults or their methods. In fact, in some ways WOF movement is more dangerous because all of its impact is on the brain of the persons being affected.

They change you – by teaching you how to change your own consciousness.
They induce the atmosphere, but it takes the will and the cooperation of the person listening, existing there in that moment, and agreeing to “take it all in” and accept it – in order for them to have the impact that they do.

There are situations where a person can recognize faulty or wrong theology in a conversation in a Coffee place. Somehow, those same people are suddenly incapable of thinking of almost anything else – except to ACCEPT the experience which is offered, in the context of the WOF meetings.

One of the characteristics of God is that He does not require us to put our minds on hold, and experiences that are truly from Him 1) Agree with the Bible and 2) are Consistent with Biblical Teachings.

Its unfortunate to say this, but in many WOF meetings, it is insufficient to suggest that it is merely false teachings which takes place. I believe that in many of those meetings, demonic spirits are looking to control the audience and find people willing to accept the input of those Evil spirits. The Bible says that Satan comes as an Angel of Light. What better place for him to display this, than in the WOF meetings ?

I believe that increasingly – in the WOF meetings, the combination of the professional production, and the work of the Spiritual Enemies of the Cross are too powerful for those who are in the audience to not be affected by them.

We can all debate how long the impact of those meetings will be, but they must be long term: Because people coming out of WOF find it so hard to extricate themselves not only from having attended, but from the experiences that they were involved with.

====

In situations like that, I believe that it is important to recognize this for what it is: good old fashioned Spiritual Warfare. This is not the “demon of nail-biting” kind. It is rather simply the Devil making war on the saints, in order to attempt to paralyze us in as many ways as possible.

Praise God that there is a natural antidote called Prayer and Renewing of our Mind through reading the Bible.

Romans 12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is important to understand that we need to pray for

a) great wisdom and discernment,

b) to pray that we will understand what has happened,

c) to pray that we would understand Which part of our theology and teachings are wrong or have been changed and altered by Word of Faith.

Those of us who do not have a local church should pray that we would find one that has people inside with 1) great spiritual discernment and 2) great spiritual maturity – or that we would be able to find a group of Christian believers who are like that.

It is important to not Stay paralyzed. We do not mean a day or two. we are talking about weeks turning to months. It is important to recognize that God does not abandon us, (even though it can feel that way sometimes) and that He allows things in our lives which will make us stronger, but that there will be times when others hurt us and there will be times when we get burned, even by those who claim to be doing the work of God.

Often, what the Devil knows he may not be able to do anymore with deception, he may try to prevent us from serving Jesus Christ by Confusion or Paralysis. The only way to work out of those feelings is to try and process them, but not allow those bad feelings to become the basis by which we make our new everyday choices.

Bad things DO happen to Good people. And the fact is that although we like to think of ourselves as Good, we are really sinners saved by the Almighty Grace of a loving God. Having said that, it is important to know and remember that just because God lets us fall does NOT mean that He rejects us. On the contrary, God wants us to know Him better. We can never go faster than God, in His desire for our company, and in HIS desire for us to know Him better and continue to worship Him, in spirit and In Truth.

These times are exiting but they do bring some dark days. We know one of the reasons why things happen to us:

II Cor 1:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Just to be sure we dont miss it, it says that we have tribulation (Difficult & Hard times)

quote:

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Other Verses are also helpful:

I Thessalonians 15: 18
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober [minded].

we should remember what Paul said:

II Thessalonians 2:16
Now [may] our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and [e]stablish you in every good word and work.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_devastation_1.htm

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Capture of the Mind

One of the ways that WOF (Word of Faith) harms people is that it uses their own willingness to believe something which is false – against the person who is doing the “believing”.

Many of these people who are in WOF actually have been in this kind of stuff for their entire lives (some of the WOF teachers started back in the 1950s or before). But many of the people who are in WOF are NEW to the movement. Where did or do these people come from ?

Don’t they come from other churches ? Isn’t there some kind of implication that these churches – from which the WOF converts came – did Not teach people

1) how to rightly divide the Word of God or

2) how to study the Bible or

3) how to identify important doctrines in the Bible or

4) how to spot a cult or identify false teachers ???

We are not proposing that individual believers don’t have a choice, and don’t have a responsibility to educate themselves. Clearly they do, whether someone informs this of that or not, and they are {and will be} held responsible by God, for the doctrine that they believe. The Bible tells all of us to be on our guard and warns about Spiritual deception and also about the need to stay constantly in the Word (the Bible) So That …we will continue to grow spiritually.

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But having said that – the failure of the leaders and teachers in those local churches, would seem to be an indication of the spiritual weakness and sickness of the Church in general, that it would provide an “impression of safety and stability”, while seeming to encourage the Lack of Spiritual grounding and the Lack of development of Spiritual Maturity.

Thank God we should not leave it up to our churches, and that we can find others and good authors to help us grow spiritually. But it remains disappointing to see many people go to church but only find the confirmation of a lack of Biblically grounded and encouraging teaching.

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These implications seem to very serious. In many cases, the original independent local churches (around today) have almost entirely failed in their Biblical duty to educate and thoroughly ground the Christians who attend in the Bible, and especially the new Christians. But now the WOF [Word of Faith Movement] is becoming so large that it will likely continue to absorb those same former “local” churches and get many of those churches to adopt WOF theology and teachings.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_&_the_mind.htm

 

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JONI A TRUE AND FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN

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Joni Eareckson Tada & Word/Faith [Word of Faith]

A Personal Experience

On December 8, 1999, Joni Eareckson Tada was on the Bible Answer Man, and made the following devastating comments about Word-Faith teachings:

Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth Hagin or Benny Hinn – they’ve never called me and asked me to come on their program.

…I had read some portions of Scripture that seemed to indicate that if God’s Word abided in me, and I abided in Him, I could ask whatever I wished and the request would be fulfilled and my joy would be brighter.

I took that to mean that God wanted me healed. And my sister packed me into her station wagon and a couple of friends, and we drove down to the Washington DC arena and Kathryn Kuhlman swept on stage and praise choruses and testimonies and songs and all of us in the wheelchair section, we kind of like with baited breath were waiting and wondering, and nothing happened. In fact, the ushers came up to all of us in the wheelchair section, about 35 or 40 of us, and said, “Let’s escort you all out early so as not to create a traffic jam, and so there I was, Hank, number 15 in line of 35 people in wheelchairs or on crutches, waiting at the stadium elevator to go up to the parking lot, and we could still hear the distant strains of the organ and piano – Kathryn Kuhlman’s meeting was still going on – and I looked up and down this line of solemn-faced individuals and saw so much disappointment, and I thought “Something’s wrong with this picture.

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Either I wasn’t reading God right in His Word or God is not coming through on His promises.” And I knew that wasn’t true, and so Hank, it was that experience that drove me into God’s Word so deep I started reading people like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and Jeremiah Burrows and John Owen and Jonathan Edwards and other contemporary authors – Dr. John MacArthur, there’s so many. I really dove into God’s Word with both sleeves rolled up to understand the Lord’s perspective on healing and I can say now that I am so grateful for the wisdom of God.

…John 5 talks about where Jesus once visited the Pool of Bethesda, and among all these disabled people He touched and healed a man paralyzed on a straw mat for over 30 years. I remember I was in the dark at night. After my bible was closed I’d picture myself at that same pool. I would imagine me dressed in maybe a rough burlap coat lying on a straw mat, perhaps even near that man that Jesus healed, and I would plead with God in prayer, “Oh, Lord, do not pass me by.” I would even sing to Him that hymn, “Jesus, Jesus, hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” I would pray that, and yet I was never healed.

Well, as you know, years later, and I began to get my spiritual act together with the Lord Jesus and I realized He was using my affliction, my paralysis to push me up against a spiritual wall with my back, getting me to seriously consider His lordship in my life – years later – in fact, just last year my husband Ken and I had a chance to visit Jerusalem, and we chose to do the old city on a hot, dry, dusty day, midday, when we knew no tour buses would be around and we’d have the place pretty much to ourselves.

And Ken was pushing me in my wheelchair down the cobblestone streets and we arrived at the sheepgate, made a lefthand turn, and there, a couple of hundred yards down the path, it opened up into this grand old ruins of – my goodness, it’s the pool of Bethesda. Ken, I said, would you look at this. And although you could not make out the colonnades because the ruins were crumbling and tumbling, and there’s no water in the pool yet, the place was empty, and as I leaned against the guardrail with my elbow, Ken hopped the guardrail to jog down to the bottom of the pool to see if there was any water in one of the cisterns.

And while he was gone and the wind was warm and dry and the sun was hot, tears began cascading down my cheeks as I looked over this pool of Bethesda and I said, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how good of You to wait 30 years, almost as many years as that man laid on his straw mat, You waited this long to bring me to this place, a place where I imagined myself so many years ago, and I’m so grateful that You did not pass me by, because a ‘no’ answer to a request for healing has meant purged sin from my life, and it strengthened my commitment to you, Lord Jesus. It has forced me to depend on Your grace. It has bound me with other believers. It has produced discernment.

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It has disciplined my mind. It has taught me to spend my time wisely. It has given me a hope of heaven. Lord Jesus, You were so good in not healing me.” And I know there are many people listening now who wish to be free of their circumstances – they are looking for an escape hatch, or maybe a quick fix for their affliction, and they think they might find it in a divorce or they are pondering maybe with the idea of suicide, such as one caller mentioned earlier. Or they’re thinking that they’ll find it in pills or medication, or a healing service. But the 32 years that I’ve been in this wheelchair and being at the Pool of Bethesda last year, has taught me that suffering is that good sheepdog, always snapping at my heals and driving me into the arms of the Shepherd. For that, I am so grateful. I am so grateful.

God Is Not a Vending Machine

Who is Joni ?

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/joni’s_story.htm

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What is the Word-Faith Movement ?

The Word-Faith Movement encompasses a number of different philosophical streams, that have coalesced into the false theological perspective that reality can be created not by human action, nor by the intention of our hearts nor by human effort (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit), but rather by the uttering of words from humans.

According to this perspective, humans have the ability to create/re-create matter and direct spiritual energy (& other energy) not by asking God, but rather by speaking words out loud. Speaking words out loud is considered speaking words “into reality”, the premise being that the words magically change the order of the universe and affect the world, or any person or circumstance, in accordance with the will of the one who utters those words. Another way of saying this is that it makes men as Gods.

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This view on speaking words/matter “into reality” has long been at the core of witchcraft and the occult. Under new disguises, this perspective continues to gain converts in Mainstream Christian Churches and Denominations, by those who are eager for a spiritual experience, but disregarding the source of that spiritual experience.

XOFC rejects the Word-Faith movement as contrary to the teachings of the Christian Bible, and as contrary to the teachings that Christians have held since the time of Jesus Christ. (check our books out for the documentation of this point)

Having compared Word of Faith teachings to the Bible, we don’t believe in the Word of Faith movement. Or should we say, we believe in its “reality”, just not its authenticity.

The Word of Faith Movement teaches that one can command God, and that one can do this using Words. The supposed basis for doing this is the Bible. But in Word of Faith, the Bible is treated much more like a book of Magic Incantations where the God of the Book must cooperate with those who have a copy of His
book.

This is comonly called “Word of Faith”. The Bible has another term for this: It is called Witchcraft. The belief that the Words in the Bible “activate” God and that God is compelled to respond because of the way that we pray … is simply an attempt to bend God to our will. It is the exaltation of the self in the Name of God.

But it is not connecting to God in any real sense. Charles Capps, E.W. Kenyon, Branham and Copeland actually are much closer to Charles Manson and Anton LaVey or Judas, than they are to Jesus, at least the Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, the one who died and rose again and is coming back.

The fact is that William Branham claimed to be in fear when interacting with the force that he was calling ” a Spirit”. (He also denied the Doctrine of the Trinity). Branham said that the spirit he was interacting with was threatening him. Oral Roberts also seemed to describe a Jesus who threatened him. It was the 800 or 900 Foot Jesus that had told Oral Roberts that Oral was going to have to die, if Oral could not raise a certain amount of money.

These teachings are not Biblical, and they are Not from God. The Word of Faith movement is full of counterfeit doctrines, that are Anti-Christ. The Word of Faith movement is simply Witchcraft disguised in Christian terms. We wish we could say we’re sorry for saying that, but we’re not.

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Don’t ask yourself if you are offended. Ask yourself if this is true. The teachings of E.W. Kenyon have much more in common with the standard teachings of Witchcraft than they do with the Bible. Additionally, the occultists teach that Satan is the one who will triumph. Not surprisingly, Word of Faith teachers affirm that “Jesus had to let Satan triumph over Jesus by torturing him for 3 days”.

That story is straight from Hell. It does not explain the resurrection. It mocks it ! Word of Faith teachers are simply the prelude to the symphony from an eternally dying being who knows that his own seven years of temporary evil will come to an end. Did you actually think that we are implying that Word of Faith teachings are from the Devil ?

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You Did ? Well that is what we are trying to say – based on the evidence.

Its not the Word of Faith movement we need. Its the Word of Jesus Christ.

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We would encourage all to study the details and the doctrines of the Word-Faith movement.

To that End, we have begin by posting information on one of the Leaders of the Word-Faith Movement – C. Peter Wagner and one of his spiritual disciples Pastor Ted Haggard, the newly elected leader of the National Association of Evangelicals.

We have posted this information below in PDF format. We appreciate those who have provided this information to us. We encourage all to continue to do research which is able to impact many for his True Kingdom.

More Specifics on the Word of Faith Movement

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/word_faith_movement.htm

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Even though I have been negatively affected by other Cults and false teachings, since before I knew what a Cult and False teaching was, I am going to use MY WORDS TO HEAL those deluded by the WoF movement. Because the WoF teaching that faith is a force is not only a false teaching, But also A VERY DANGEROUS and sometimes deadly OCCULTIC PARADIGM SHIFT.

So I have decided (willed) to USE THE POWER OF MY WORDS to heal you. I will be constantly Chanting YOUR HEALED,YOUR HEALED, YOUR HEALED. So don’t make any negative confessions, least Thee over power my positive confessions, JUST RECEIVE AND BE HEALED. 

You know I am just joking, being sarcastic and a little facetious right?
 
But If I weren’t, think of the ramifications of the idea that words have magical creative power.
 
We hear Word of Faith believers say “Life and death is in the power of the tongue” BUT THAT DON’T MEAN that actions don’t have consequences, AND WORDS are more powerful than WHAT WE DO, and sometimes think. Just think how delusional and illogical the idea is that words have more power than our actions do.
 
The first thing we learn as a Kid is that actions have consequences. If we stick our finger in the fire, we find the fire is HOT, not because someone SAID FIRE IS HOT, but because fire is hot by it’s nature. As a baby,,, we cannot even understand our parents say the fire is Hot. And fire was hot WAY BEFORE cavemen quit grunting and grumbling and started talking. And we usually don’t find the real power in words until we use the wrong words, on the wrong people,,, and get a bop on the nose for it. Our words have some power, but not literal creative power.

And certainly God could have created everything,,, without a single word, because He IS GOD. THE Creator. 

Man has never created anything Ex-nihilo (out of nothing), much less with mere words. Although words can uplift, encourage and build self esteem, and our words can insult, degrade and devalue a person. Words have never actually killed anyone. It is impossible to die from saying “I am laughing myself to death”

Have you ever noticed that ALL BRIDGES ARE SLIPPERY WHEN WET? Even if they don’t have a warning sign saying so. OR SOMEBODY SAID SO. Have you ever noticed that in contradiction against the obvious implications of the Word of Faith teaching,,, deaf and speaking impaired people get sick and have problems that RESULT FROM THEIR ACTIONS,,,,, not words TOO?

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WHO SPOKE THE MAJIC WORD FIRST? 

In other words, WHERE DOES THE IDEA THAT WORDS HAVE POWER COME FROM?

If you seek out the answer to this question, you will find that the WoF teaching comes from Kenneth Haggin, who got it from EW Kenyon, who in turn got it from Mary Baker Eddy (of Christian Science) through Charles Emory. And Mary Baker Eddy got the words have power teaching from Phineas Qumby, the Father of New Thought or Mind Science .

There is a few things you should know about Mr. Quimby before you continue to try and create realities with your words.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Quimby

Phineas Quimby was known as a philosopher, magnetizer, mesmerist, healer, and scientist. Quimby’s focus of attention was philosophy of mind, on which he held the dualist position. (See also Cartesian dualism).

He approached the mind-body problem by reasoning that mind was “spiritual matter”, observing that man “exists outside himself,” and that mind and body, although of two different natures, interact with each other.

Quimby claimed that disease is not the cause of illness, but the effect of a conflict existing within the mind; he claimed that all mental and most physical diseases were the result of faulty reasoning. He said “the explanation is the cure.”

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The above WiKipedia article also says that Mrs. Eddy was a patient of Mr. Quimby’s and shared his view that disease is rooted in a mental causation. The Article also tries to claim that Quimby did not mix his “System of healing” with religion. But Quimby’s own words prove otherwise.  http://www.phineasquimby.com/concerning_use_medicine.html

From the article above, Mr Quimby was a philosophical dualist who said “Medicine contains nothing to me, except as an effect – and if a patient believes he must use it, I sometimes allow him to do so; but I always tell him the cure is in himself (or in his belief), and not in the medicine.”

Philosophical dualism states that matter and mind are different. Mind is more akin to Spirit than Matter. So when Quimby would assert that “the cure is in himself (or in his belief)”,,, he was basically saying that Mind is a spiritual force that can be “tapped into” or manipulated, if you just “think rightly“, to affect sickness and disease.

WHAT ARE WORDS? Expression of thought.

Words ARE NOT a tool to manipulate a so called “force of faith” as so many Word of Faith teachers arrogantly proclaim. 

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WORDS ARE FOR WITCHES (silly rabbit) and God is for Christians

I read every article I post on this blog and probably 5-6 articles for every 1 that I do post. Many WoF expose articles will show the origins of this false teaching to go back to EW. Kenyon. Some trace it further back to Marry Baker Eddy and some go back to Quimby. But most fail to show the real source of the teaching. Satan and the Occult.

Yes,, there are many articles that show the WoF teaching of positive confession to be the same as the occultic New Age “Law of Attraction”. And anyone can see the similarities of the NEW AGE Mega-book “THE SECRET” AND the WoF teachings.

A few articles rightfully mention that the WoF teachings is akin to witchcraft without quoting any witches. Looking at the definitions of Magic, Spells and Incantation will show the WoF is witchcraft like And many article list quotes from Prominent Word of faith teachers saying that “if the occult can get results out this force of faith,, why can’t Gods children?“ Don’t that show JUST a little (wee) bit of a lack of discernment.

BUT I WOULD LIKE TO GO FURTHER THAN THAT.

Because my Uncle is a Mormon Bishop and because Joseph Smith was a Freemason, I have studied the Occult extensively. Witchcraft and other forms of the Occult IS ALL ABOUT POWER. People don’t become witches to make their parents angry. NO THEY WANT THE POWER TO CONTROL THEIR LIFES AND OTHERS.

Instead of throwing themselves to the mercy of a sovereign God and living life to please him. They seek to manipulate their reality with “spiritual forces”. But as Jesus said, “Father, If it be thy will” is what Christians should pray. God only gives us WHAT HE WILLS. No matter what we ask for?

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STRAIGHT FROM THE WITCHES MOUTH 

Here is some text from a website on witchcraft.

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/ 

“Mankind has always attempted to know the unknowable and control it by his own actions. At the same time, it was recognized that there were powers beyond his ability to control. Throughout history, certain people have been accepted as being better at controlling the powers that represent natural forces such as earthquake, wind, flood,fire and disease.

In some cases, these powers were named as gods or goddesses, at other times the forces themselves were named and summoned and controlled by the will of humans known as witches in modern day language.

The power possessed by a witch or shaman skilled in the art and working of witchcraft was assumed to be almost limitless. By saying certain words or power names in the correct manner and correct tone of voice, the witch could heal the ill, and cast out the evil spirits which caused pain and suffering in those who were diseased.

Inanimate nature also obeyed the words of witchcraft and even the creation of the world itself was through a spoken word. The words could tear the earth apart and make water pile up in a heap and even the sun could be stopped in its course by a word uttered in witchcraft.”

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Witchcraft vs Christianity; Learn the similarities and differences of the two 

“The differences between the Christian and witchcraft viewpoint is the difference between being citizens of a society which takes an active role to shape and mold the structure of society or subjects of a society which has the connotation of subordination to the larger group for the benefit of all.

A similar term with very different meanings between Christian and pagan understandings of the word is “self-control”. To those practicing witchcraft they believe that they are the one who has full control over the actions. They do not surrender to another except under very brief, special and voluntary circumstances. Self-control means taking charge, making all decisions relating to oneself, doing anything so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. 

The witch views control as the act of intentionally and positively directing the will toward the achievement of positive goals. The underlying assumption with the witch’s view of self control is that man is inherently valuable, and can achieve good and beneficial ends through the use of will power.”

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/christianity.html

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EVEN WITCHES DON’T HAVE FAITH IN FAITH 

“People who are just beginning witchcraft don’t have the understanding or the ability to actually practice medicine, but witchcraft is the belief system which is outstripping all others in popularity. It is expected that young people who are practicing witches may soon be preparing for degrees in medical fields and thus improve the chances of being healed through witchcraft as well as more mainstream means and medications.

Modern scientists have documented the term called the placebo effect. When some people receive healing from illnesses which in some cases are considered terminal illnesses after being given a pill made of sugar rather than the test drug, the healing is due to the placebo effect. Others would say that they were healed by faith, the patient believed that they would be healed due to the medication, and so they were healed, in spite of the fact that they received no medication. So, faith regardless of whether the faith comes from belief in the drug, belief in God or belief in witchcraft.”

http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/spells.html

A WICHES FAITH IS in the force of WITCHRAFT,,, Not faith or God.

There is no force called faith. Faith (trust) is only as good as the object of that faith.

 

An interesting study is to get a few bible dictionaries and do a word search and study on “god of forces” I have several books on demonology by Merrill F. Unger. He has a whole chapter devoted to the “god of forces” in one of them, so he might have a really good definition in his bible dictionary. I will look when I get more of my books out of storage.

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IN CLOSING 

I have about a dozen witchcraft websites bookmarked that are speaking about “creating your own future with the power of words” or “use your words to make yourself rich and powerful” BUT I will not make anymore quotes from them in this article.

INSTEAD I ask you to take a intellectual peek into the matter for yourself,, after you have prayed for spiritual protection over your heart.

Control, Power, and creating so called “realities” out of non physical realities (words and thoughts) is the very basis of all Occult philosophies. USE THE POWER LUKE, AM I YOUR FATHER?

The Word of Faith movement is nothing more than Gnosticism/Occultism invading the Christian Church tempting the Modern Christian to attempt to be in control of his own destiny and well being,,,, instead of FULLY RELYING ON GOD.

Have you bought into the lies, Do you still buy into the lies, OR WAS YOU HEALED BY THE POWER (reasoning) OF MY WORDS? Or maybe it was the power words in the title?

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORD OF FAITH

exwordoffaith.blogspot.com

I used to wonder why Shepherding reappeared in the Charismatic churches considering that the founders pretty much shut it down around 1990, and publicly repented. It didn’t make sense why it not only lingered, but began thriving again. I have lately found out why it reappeared. It snuck in through the teachings of the Word of Faith, one of the most influential movements since the Azusa Street Revival of 1906. The Word of Faith may be influential, but it is also an apostasy, and carries Shepherding clinging to it like a leech.

I was a follower of the Word of Faith doctrine from 1990 until 2005. Even when I began to break with the Word of Faith over the extremes of the Prosperity Gospel, I still maintained connections with them. I was a licensed minister through a Word of Faith church from 2004 through 2007, and my wife worked for Kenneth Copeland Ministries from 2003 until late 2007. During that time, I noticed more and more spiritual abuse, things that reminded me of Shepherding. I began to wonder, “Is the Word of Faith in general, and Kenneth Copeland Ministries in particular, Shepherdist, or merely spiritually abusive, or am I nuts?”

Early this year (2008), I found out that I am not nuts!

In his book A Different Gospel, D.R. McConnell points out the origins of the Word of Faith. This is not a rant by a Fundamentalist preacher. This book began as McConnell’s master’s thesis when he was a student at Oral Roberts University. He is a Charismatic pastor, so this is an insider’s look at something he finds disturbing.

McConnell says that today’s Word of Faith preachers (Kenneth Copeland, John Avanzini, Creflo Dollar, etc.) base their doctrine on the works and teachings of Kenneth Hagin. We knew that.

McConnell then says that Hagin based (some say plagiarized) his doctrines on the works of E.W. Kenyon. We knew that, too.

But then McConnell drops a 2,000 megaton bombshell, ripping through my views of the Word of Faith like a lawnmower through Bermuda grass. He states that Kenyon based his teachings and beliefs on what he was taught in college, at the hands of teachers who were Gnostic and Christian Scientist.

Whoa! That makes the whole doctrine pretty much suspect from the beginning!

Kenyon attended the Emerson School of Oratory in 1892. There, he was under the influence of Charles Emerson, a Christian Scientist; R.W. Trine, a Gnostic who wrote one of the major books on New Thought; and M.J. Savage, a Unitarian whose church Kenyon attended.

Let’s look at those beliefs and see how the Word of Faith dovetails into them.

Gnosticism is a complex system of beliefs hammered together from earlier ones. It has existed as far back as before the time of Christ and was a real problem to the Church as early as the time of John and Peter. To summarize Gnosticism, it believes that salvation is through knowledge of mysteries (gained through intuition), that all matter is evil and that only spirit is good (a belief called Dualism), that Jesus could not have been purely good because He was in a human body, that Jesus was a mere man, that God created lesser gods, and that only Gnostics, “people who knew,” were guaranteed salvation. They also believe that God could only be reached through gnosis, through the divine revelation of mysterious knowledge. Gnostics also believe that God is a hermaphrodite; half male, half female. Gnostics believed in a divine formula, that once understood, would destroy the power of evil.

Gnosticism’s more modern offshoot, New Thought, states that Spirit is the ultimate reality, the true human self is divine, divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good, most disease is mental in origin, and that right thinking has a healing effect. While that may sound Biblical, it is actually a form of early Humanism, and was founded on pantheism, occultism, spiritualism, and the basics of Gnosticism.

Christian Science is founded on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. This system believes a lot of things that are Biblical, but some of the things that they believe that aren’t include “mind over matter,” the idea that all things are spiritual and the material world is an illusion, and the denial of physical ailments. Please note that Christian Science is not Scientology.

Hmmm … I see parallels already. Let’s review some of them.

The Word of Faith believes:

— Divine Revelation: well, I believe in it, too, but all divine revelation has to mesh perfectly with the Bible. Word of Faith preachers teach that they are the dispensers of this revelation, and imply that only they are capable of giving it. They will rely more on what “God told them” than on what was written in the Bible, despite their insistence that we, the congregation, must find three scripture verses to support what we want to do. This is not unlike the Gnostic belief in mysterious knowledge.

— They put God in a box: Word of Faith preachers deny God’s sovereignty and actually mock the concept. They make God a slave to “spiritual laws” that even He can’t break. They teach that we can twist God’s arm to get what we want, enabling us to write our own ticket with Him (Kenneth Hagin’s term), or turn God into a vending machine (Richard Roberts’ term). The concept of spiritual laws and the idea that God is at our beck and call is definitely Gnostic.

— Jesus died spiritually: while the idea that Jesus went to Hell is as old as the Church, the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds do NOT say that Jesus died spiritually and had to be born again. If Jesus did die spiritually, then Jesus was a mere man, and not God incarnate. Again, this is a Gnostic belief — that Jesus was a mere man.

— Spiritual laws: Word of Faith is founded on the concept that there are spiritual laws in the Bible, that even God is bound to obey. These spiritual laws include things like reciprocity, sowing and reaping, the law of sin and death, the law of the tongue, etc. Once these laws are understood and worked with, then Satan has no more power over the Christian. That may be true, and I’m not saying that it is, but it sounds an awful lot like the Gnostic belief in divine formulas.

— God is as much female as He is male: I don’t know where they get this from Biblically, but more than one Word of Faith has said this. They also teach that Adam was both male and female at the same time, and God removed Adam’s female half, not just a rib. If this were true, then the pronoun for God in the Bible would be either “it” or “s/he,” not “he.” A hermaphroditic view of God is pure Gnosticism.

— Man is equal with Jesus and God: the idea that we are made in God’s image is Biblical, but the Word of Faith teaching that we are little gods, or that we are made in God’s class is not. Being equal with God is Gnostic at best, Lucifer’s rant at worst.

— Our words can change time, space and matter: this is known as “Name It and Claim It.” Sure, our words can change attitudes and maybe our bodies, but not to the extent that we are the “prophets of our own lives.” This is Christian Scientist “mind over matter,” retooled for modern times.

— Emphasis on Dominion over the Earth instead of forgiveness of sins and the need to love others: Most Word of Faith theology is rooted in having dominion over the Earth, and that Adam was the god of this planet. Do I have to go into that? Gnostics believed that they were gods.

— The reality of sickness and sin is denied: The Word of Faith says that they do not deny sickness and sin, but deny sickness and sin’s place in their bodies. It’s the same thing. Christian Science denies sickness, often to the point of dying instead of taking medicine. Word of Faith preachers do the same thing, often mocking doctors and medicine, despite having them on their daily television shows.

— Prayer is replaced by confession: Prayer connects us with God. Confession connects us with us. In other words, confession, whether it is what we desire or a Bible verse, is a Gnostic practice of mumbling chants and spells, replacing God with our own minds, because we have the knowledge it takes to save ourselves.

— God can only be pleased by faith: This is based on a verse in Hebrews. The implication is that if we are not standing on three scriptures from the Bible, believing we receive, and holding God to the spiritual laws, then God is not pleased with us. This is very similar to the Gnostic concept that the only way to God is through gnosis (in this case, the only way to God is through the strict definition of faith that the preacher uses). This totally rules out the concept that the way to God is through Jesus Christ.

— Dualism: The Word of Faith stresses that everything is spiritual, and that the physical is not important. They mock education and creatitivy and the five human senses. They hate sex (Kenneth Copeland said that we were supposed to speak our children into existence, Gloria Copeland said that sex was a product of the fall of Adam, and Benny Hinn said that women were originally supposed to give birth from their armpits). Despite their obsession with healing, they hate the human body, calling it an “earth suit.” Dualism is a Gnostic belief. Sure, you find the same teaching in the works of St. Augustine, but remember, he was a Gnostic before becoming a Christian.

I should have seen all this from the beginning, but I didn’t. I fell for the teaching that I could get rich quick and that I didn’t have to be sick a day in my life. There is a sucker born every minute! The reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of other Christians, is that there is a lot of Biblical truth in it. Much of what Word of Faith preachers teach is sound. But what they teach that is sound is nothing more than the truths found in the Pentecostal movement of 1906 and the Charismatic Renewal of 1967. It’s the rest that’s poisoned; the part that orginated with Kenyon, was modified by Hagin and has been perpetuated by Copeland.

Another reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of others, is that the preachers are genuinely sincere Christians who love Jesus! Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland, Dollar and others have helped millions of people know Christ better. They really believe that what they preach is totally Biblical. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Kenyon fought against the metaphysical religions of Christian Science and New Thought, denying their more obvious unbiblical teachings. Yet, he ended up embracing enough of these unbiblical teachings to turn the Word of Faith from what should have been a new branch of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement into a genuine cult.

I know, I know … there are Word of Faith apologetics that refute every one of these observations. The thing for me is this — I was an insider and saw this firsthand. I saw the abuses, and the apostasies, and people running around chanting their mantras, and I had enough. McConnell’s claims make sense to me. They explain what I saw. You have to decide for yourself.

This does not make the Word of Faith a heresy. Heresy is a rebellion against the doctrines of an established church. The Word of Faith is its own denomination, so it has nothing to rebel against. It is instead, an apostasy! An apostasy is nothing less than a rebellion against God Himself.

It gets worse.

There is a direct link between the Word of Faith and Shepherding.

Tricia Tillin, in her online testimony, shows this direct link. She lives in Great Britain, and was involved with KCM and the Word of Faith during the latter part of the 20th Century. In her blog, she writes that in 1985, she visited the UK headquarters for KCM and had a conversation with the worker there. During this conversation, Mrs. Tillin brought up how she was relieved that Kenneth Copeland was so opposed to Shepherding. Mrs. Tillin expected the worker to agree with her. Instead, Mrs. Tillin writes “She was evasive, would not condemn Shepherding doctrines, and then said that there had been a change of heart and the Copeland ministry would now be working more closely with the Shepherding leadership, and we should be praying for unity between them. This was devastating! Formerly they agreed Shepherding was in error, but now they’d changed their minds, and were going to work alongside each other!”

Then there is Stephen Parson’s book Ungodly Fear. Parson writes that in 1985 (the same year that Mrs. Tillin visited the KCM headquarters in Great Britain), at a convention of the Network of Christian Ministries, Kenneth Copeland said the Word of Faith and the Shepherding doctrines ought to be merged.

So, two different sources identify that the Word of Faith and Shepherding married each other. This does, at least to me, explains what I saw during my tenure with KCM and the Word of Faith. If the Word of Faith was so far from the truth to begin with, then it’s easy to understand how it could so easily embrace another apostasy like Shepherding.

And it also explains how Shepherding has made so many inroads into the Charismatic churches and ministries. Kenneth Copeland is a highly respected and influential teacher among many Charismatics. They are simply doing what they see his ministry and church do.

http://exwordoffaith.blogspot.com/2008/02/truth-about-word-of-faith.html

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Top 5 False Doctrines To Avoid

by IMAblogger.net

NUMBER 1 – THE WORD OF FAITH GOSPEL

— What Is This All About ? —

The Word of Faith Doctrine, The Prosperity Gospel, The Name it And Claim It Creed… The list goes on and on with this False Doctrine. This doctrine is probably the greatest weapon that Satan has used in these last several decades to destroy Faith in Christ and His Finished Work. The direction of this doctrine sends the seeker in a wrong direction than what God has intended for believers.

As Judaism was the great hindrance to the Message of Grace during the time of Paul, the so-called “faith Message” is the great hindrance presently. In fact, I believe it is even worse than Judaism.

First of all, the faith which is proposed is really no faith at all, at least that which God will recognize. If our faith isn’t properly in Christ Crucified, we are not truly in “Faith”. ( I Cor. 1:17-18, 21,23; 2:2; Col. 2:14-15; Eph 2:13-18). The “Word of Faith” teaching totally denigrates the Cross. It is referred to as “past miseries,” or even as “the greatest defeat in human history.” It also teaches that the Blood of Jesus Christ didn’t atone. While it will say out of one side of its mouth that the Blood does atone, it will then turn around and say, but not within itself. And with that little hook, people are made to believe that they are teaching and preaching the Blood, which they aren’t.

They teach that Jesus became a sinner while on the Cross, died as a sinner, which means that He died spiritually, thereby went to Hell, and we speak of the burning side of Hell, and there suffered for three days and nights the agony of the damned. At the end of the three days and nights, they continue to teach, God then said, “It is enough,” meaning that He had suffered enough. He was then “born again,” even as any sinner is Born-Again, and then resurrected. So when they talk about a person’s faith in Christ in order to be saved, they’re speaking of trusting Christ and what He did in the pit of Hell as a lost sinner. Incidentally, all of this is pure fiction, with not a shred of it being in the Bible. But sadly, untold millions believe it!

The teaching of the “Word of Faith Message” of which has been written here, is none other than blasphemy. It cannot be construed as anything else. To believe such a doctrine, which is the worst perversion of the Atonement that Satan has ever concocted, is none other than believing a lie. That’s why Paul said:

“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?” ( II Cor. 13:5)

These are strong terms as given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle. He is saying that any doctrine, any teaching, that eliminates the Cross, is termed as a reprobate doctrine, which produces “reprobates.” Reprobates in the Greek is “adokimos,” and means, “rejected, worthless, cast away.” So in effect Paul is saying that any other type of faith is a “worthless faith.”

The truth is, anyone who takes unto themselves the false message of the “Word of Faith” doctrine has taken a path that will ultimately lead to spiritual ruin.

— Who Is Involved ? —

wof

Mike Murdock / Paula White / Benny Hinn / Kenneth Copeland / Gloria Copeland / Creflo Dollar / Steve Munsey / Jesse Duplantis / Pretty Much All of the TBN Network / Pretty Much All of the Daystar Network / Marcus Lamb / Joni Lamb / Too Many More To Mention /

NUMBER 2 – THE GOSPEL OF SELF ESTEEM

— What Is This All About ? —

To correct this situation, man (not God) has come up with the false gospel of “self-esteem.” This false way basically teaches that man’s problem is that he does not readily know his self-worth; man consequently needs his self-esteem elevated. If this can be done, they teach, man’s problems will be solved.

In order to place this new teaching into proper perspective, we should realize that so-called “Christian” psychologists and psychiatrists transplanted it from outside the Church and from outside the Bible, and I speak of that which is truly the Bible, preferably the King James Version or another Word for word translation and not a paraphrase. A leading evangelical psychologist, who vigorously promotes self-worth teaching, explains, in one of his books, “You’re someone special:”
“Under the influence of humanistic psychologists, like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, many of us Christians have begun to see our need for self-love and self-esteem.”

Satan’s threefold humanistic plan for world domination is basically simple, and you might be surprised how well it correlates with this new theology:

1. Darwinism (Darwin) — the concept of evolution, as it affects the social man, resulting in abortion, humanism, and the “survival of the fittest.”

2. Marxism (Communism and Socialism) — Satan’s economic foundation, which has been proven the world over to be an unworkable philosophy. It results in nothing but poverty.

3. Freudianism (Psychology) — a profound influence on the morals of man, and leading, one might say, toward immorality. And there you have it! Satan’s three-pronged assault — social, economic, and moral. The self-esteem philosophy comes directly from Freudian principles, and it does demand an entirely different

— Who Is Involved ? —Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen

One of the foremost proponents of the self-esteem gospel, Robert Schuller, has called for a “new reformation,” stating that the Sixteenth Century movement (under Martin Luther and John Calvin) was a “reactionary movement” because it emphasized that men are sinners. Schuller goes on to say,

“Once a person believes he is a ‘unworthy sinner,’ it is doubtful he can honestly accept the Saving Grace God offers in Jesus Christ.”

Schuller then offers his blueprint for bringing sinners to Salvation:

“If you want to know why I make people laugh once in a while, I am giving them sounds and strokes, sounds and strokes, like you would a baby. “It’s a strategy. People who don’t trust need to be stroked. People are born with a negative self-image. Because they do not trust, they cannot trust God.”

Of course, if this man is right, accepted Evangelistic practices, which have brought millions to Christ, are wrong. We should then stop telling people they’re sinners who need Jesus Christ as their Savior. We must no longer convince them of their sin and rebellion against a Holy God. We must never speak of Hell, nor warn of the terrible, eternal consequences of rejecting the wonderful offer of Salvation as an unmerited gift from God.

Instead we should begin to stroke men and women into faith, smile them into the kingdom of God, and elevate their self-esteem. If one knows his Bible, he will agree that this is a major change in Christian perspective. However, the proponent of this false gospel has an even broader concept in mind. He goes on to say:

“A theology of self-esteem also produces a theology of social ethics and a theology of economics — and these produce a theologyof government. It all rises on one foundation: the dignity of a person who is created in the image of God.”

Basically, this self-esteem theology states that we need a new reformation and a new theology.

What it also suggests — but does not openly state — is that we need a new Bible. But, truthfully, without openly saying so, it is now giving the Church a new Bible. I speak of the many new interpretations which are now on the market, such as “The Message Bible,” and scores of others of similar perversion. By no stretch of the imagination can these interpretations be called the “Bible.” Pure and simple, they constitute no more than mere prattle, one might even say drivel, of man. Concerning this new gospel of self-esteem, it strikes at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The True Gospel states that man is a lost sinner, who cannot save himself, and who thus desperately needs a Redeemer.

One the same steps as Schuller, stands a megachurch leader by the name of Joel Osteen. His charming smile and his personable tone leads many to wonder: “How can this man be wrong”? Well, its all about the message. He will not preach the cross. He will not preach the blood. He will not preach about sin. He will only tell you how great a person you are and how much potential you have in you. He will tell you to repeat phrases to yourself daily for affirmation. He will not direct you to God, but he will lead you to self every time.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

(MARK 8:34) “AND WHEN HE HAD CALLED THE PEOPLE UNTO HIM WITH HIS DISCIPLES ALSO, HE SAID UNTO THEM, WHOSOEVER WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME.”

The phrase, “And when He had called the people unto Him with His Disciples also,” speaks of an interval of some period of time between His rebuke of Peter and this present statement. In the previous exchange, only the Disciples were included; but others are now also addressed! What Jesus will say will be the very heartbeat of what it means to a Christian; consequently, the Message is given not only to the Disciples, but also to the people, because it is a requirement for all! The phrase, “Whosoever will come after Me,” refers to those who accept the call. It means to be Born-Again, to become His Disciple, to follow His Teachings, and to enter into His fellowship. If one is to notice, Jesus didn’t say, “Come after the Church,” or “Preacher,” or “Priest,” or “Prophet,” but rather Christ Himself (“Me”). Christianity without Christ is no more than any other philosophy. Such produces the moralist, of which there is an abounding number, but does not produce a changed life. The moralist reduces Christianity to a mere religion, which makes it little different than the other religions of the world. Actually, Christianity, within itself, cannot change anything or anyone. Only Christ can change hearts and lives! He actually makes a new creature of all who come to Him.

When we preach self and how great we humans are, first of all, we are lying and second we are doing the opposite of what Christ taught and what God expects.

NUMBER 3 – THE PURPOSE DRIVEN …

— What Is This All About ? —

The Purpose Driven Life attempts to turn a born again life into one of pragmatism rather than one being led by the Spirit of God. The book series has many “uplifting” stories of giving purpose and hope to a people worldwide. It subverts God’s way in order to push certain agendas that are exposed in the book series. The doctrine is filled with biblical half truths held up by scriptures that are only partial and taken out of context. The quotation of many paraphrase translations of the Word of God are used in order to fit into what The Purpose Driven Life is trying to indoctrinate. The founders of The Purpose Driven series draw their visions from the business world in order to try to grow the church in ways never tried before in the Body of Christ.

— Who Is Involved ? —Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founder and pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He is responsible for writing the Purpose Driven Series while receiving personal help from business guru, Peter Drucker. Between these two characters and other like minded individuals, they founded a new way to “DO” church. These methods brought people into the church in droves, but at the same time threw out all sound doctrine. Warm bodies on the pews seemed to be the only goal at the beginning while now it has expanded to Global domination and an inclusive doctrine.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

Any group who throws out sound doctrine to “tickle the ears” of the saints, has done a great injustice to the work of Christ. When any body refuses to confront sin as sin in order to bring no offense and risk the possibility of losing a member, has compromised the message of Christ and thus became apostate. This group, and many like it, attempt to widen the gate that Jesus Himself calls narrow. Rick Warren’s idea of Salvation is not telling the sinner of their need to repent due to their sins. This is how you get saved in Rick Warren’s mind, according to The Purpose Driven Life book:

‘Dear God, I want to know Your purpose for my life. I don’t want to waste the rest of my life on the wrong things. Today I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know You. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand it all, but as much as I know how, I want to open my life to You. I ask you to come into my life and make yourself real to me. Use this series to help me know what You made me for. Thank you. Amen.’

“If you just prayed that prayer for the very first time, I congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”

Those were words from his book, and that is the dogma that is held high by that camp. Avoid this at all costs. Eternal souls are in the balance, and messages like this do nothing to aid in leading people in the correct direction. The focus should be Christ crucified. It should ever be that we glory in the Cross of Christ. Not in the works or programs of man.

NUMBER 4 – THE EMERGENT CHURCH

Preface: I know I will probably get a lot of backlash about this one, but hear me out. The proponents of the Emergent Church will probably say that they have heard my schpiel over and over again, but nonetheless, I “schpiel” on.

— What Is This All About ? —

The Emerging Church is all about change. They vocalize that, as the culture and society of the world changes, so should the Church. The Word of God becomes less true to the Emergent Church because they want to bring unity to the world by compromising the scriptures in order to avoid any offense. There is deep thought to what God “really” thinks about sin and hell. There is much avoidance of mentioning that some other person’s religion might actually bring them down a path to hell. They like to read the scriptures with an attidude of:

“Yea, God did write about hell in the Bible, but how can a loving God actually send people to hell, if it even exists”?

They liken God to a parent who might threaten a punishment or make up the boggie man in order to get the kids in line, while all the while the parent never intends to follow through with the punishment.

— Who Is Involved ? —Brian McLaren is one of the major mouth pieces of the Emergent Church Movement. You may have read a post on this website about some of his escapades. To read more about Brian McLaren read here and here.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

The False Doctrine that the Emergent Church presents about inclusivism and the compromise of the scriptures is addressed as directly contrary to scriptures such as Revelation 2:14-17 where the church of Pergamos is addressed as preaching a False Doctrine. I think the bottom line is, the Word of God stands true now as it has always. We shouldn’t invent new ways to do God’s work. We should just “Do” what God says. We have to tell others about Christ and His Finished Work on Calvary. There is a literal Hell, and souls are going there daily. If the Emergents are right, and there is no Hell, and all roads lead to Heaven, then WOW! Great. But Why did Christ have to die? ….What if the Emergents are wrong??? What if in condoning sin and accepting all religions and celebrating them as on the same road to heaven, they are actually doing the souls of man no good. I am of the belief that Man is sinful and wicked. We are in need of a savior. In Christ we have hope and must accept him, or we will be held accountable for our sins and thus pay an eternal price. I wouldn’t want to be wrong about that one. Not when you are so close.

MATTHEW CHAPTER 7

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it

NUMBER 5 – THE NEW MYSTICS

—What Is This All About ?—

They claim to be a Christ centered ministry, but warning signs go off when they expound that their vision is to “practice the presence of God”. They are deep into “soaking” in the presence of God (another warning sign). They are heavily into the Signs and Wonders and promote prophetic schools where they can teach you how to function as a prophet including how to receive and deliver revelations, etc.

—Who Is Involved ?—

Probably the most famous of the New Mystics would be John and Lily Crowder and Benjamin Dunn. A simple google or Youtube search will bring up videos of these clowns “getting high” and drunk in the presence of god. They make an open mockery of the Holy Spirit and His giftings. I have posted about one video in particular here. and here.

Another prominent member of this movement is Joshua Mills. You might recognize him from one of my past posts here where Patricia King, another Mystic, builds his lies up until you hear the lies from his own mouth. Joshua mills regularly encounters angels, angel dust, gold dust, diamond dust, diamonds, feathers, and more. He even has oil pour out of his hands and onto other people.

—Why Should We Avoid Them ?—

The Bible says in Acts 17:29:

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Our focus should be on Christ and His Finished Work.  If we are out seeking for signs and wonders we are not obeying God in his call on us to tell the World about Him.  And the simple fact that we think that fake dust signifies the Glory of God, is sad.  If I thought that glitter signified anything Godly, I might think twice about avoiding those strip clubs.  I hear those girls get covered in the stuff.

http://imablogger.net/2008/09/21/top-5-false-doctrines-to-avoid-the-compilation/

 

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Word of Faith Movement Refutation

What do you say to a person who tells you that you don’t have the Holy Spirit, even though you are a Christian? What should you do if you think something is wrong, or your conscience is bothering you about something that was said or done at a church? The answer? Go to the Scriptures!

The Bible has all the answers to your questions. Great deception is afoot in the Church today. In this paper, I will attempt to deal with a few statements you may hear from people who have become involved in the Third Wave revival movement. By “Third Wave? I am referring to teachers, “prophets?and any meeting associated with the Toronto “Blessing? Brownsville Assemblies of God, Rodney Howard-Browne, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Rod Parsley, Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyers, and many others who appear on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club on TV.

Hopefully, the statements and answers here will set you off on an investigation of your own into the Word of God. Paul praised the Bereans because they “were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things,that Paul taught, “was so” We must do the same in our day!

Statement 1: “You need to come to a meeting where this man can lay hands on you and give you the Holy Spirit anointing. You may be born again, but you may not have the Holy Spirit.?

Answer: I am a born again Christian, therefore I am already sealed (Eph 1:13, 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22) and baptized (1 Cor 12:13) by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is working (1 Cor 12:11; 2 Thes 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2) within me (John 7:38; 1 John 3:24, 4:13; Jam 4:5; 2 Tim 1:14) convicting (1 Thes 1:5; John 16:7-8), empowering (Eph 3:16), sanctifying (2 Thes 2:13; 1 Pet 1:12), bestowing grace gifts (1 Cor 12:4-11), and producing fruits (Gal 5:22). The Holy Spirit of God is sovereign (Heb 2:4; 1 Cor 12:11) and He cannot be transferred “by?human hands, which was the misconception of Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18-23). A few times in Acts the Spirit was given “at?the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17; 19:6), which was always done in submission to the will of God and in agreement with His purposes (1 John 2:17). The Holy Spirit, in this age, immediately indwells all who believe (Eph 1:13-14), which does not necessitate the laying on of hands.

Statement 2: “We are seeing a great revival in these last days, where millions will be saved in preparation for the return of Christ.?

Answer: The Bible does not indicate a great end times revival or awakening, but rather a great deception (Mark 13; 2 Thes 2:9-12; 2 Pet 2:1; Matt 24:4), delusion (2 Thes 2:9-12), and the love of people growing cold (Matt 24:12). The end times are marked by many false prophets and teachers (2 Pet 2:1; Matt 7:15, 24:24; 1 John 4:1), false Christs (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22), a different spirit (2 Cor 11:4, 1 John 4:3), false doctrines (2 Tim 4:3; 1 Tim 4:1, 6:3-5).

Matthew 24:14 says that the gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth, but it does not say millions will be saved. Rather, those who believe are a little flock (Luke 12:32) who have little strength (Rev 3:8)–a few who find the small gate and the narrow road (Matt 7:14). Jesus also asked, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth??(Luke 18:8)

Statement 3: “Come with us to an exciting event where God is doing a new thing, and where there is new revelation not really mentioned in God’s Word.

Answer: God may do a “new thing”(Isa 43:19), but it will always be consistent with His unchangeable character (Heb 13:8), His testimony (Isa 8:20) and his unchanging (Heb 6:17), unbreakable Word (John 10:35). We are commanded not to add to or take away from Scripture (Rev 22:18-19) or to go “above that which is written?(1 Cor 4:6). We should daily search the Scriptures to discern truth from error (Acts 17:11). New revelation that does not meet the above criteria must not be accepted (Deut 13:3). We do not need to be afraid of false prophets who make up new exciting things (Deut 18:22; Jer 23:25) and prophesy falsely in the name of God (Jer 27:15), for these prophets and those who follow them will perish.

Statement 4: “Don’t be afraid of being ‘slain in the spirit? because a Christian can’t be demonized or deceived.?

Answer: There is ample evidence, both scriptural and experiential [Anyone know what this means –Ed.] that believers can be demonized, also known as POSSESSED (Job 1:8-9, 2:3, 2:7; 1 Sam 16:14-16, 18:10, 19:9; Matt 15:22-28, 16:22-23; Mark 1:23; Luke 9:52-56, 13:11-16; John 6:70-71, 13:27; Acts 5:1-11, 8:9-24; 1 Cor 5:1-5, 10:12-14; 2 Cor 2:10-11, 11:3-4, 12:7; Gal 3:1; Eph 4:25-27; 1 Thes 2:18; 1 Tim 1:19-20, 3:6-7, 4:1-2; 2 Tim 2:24-26; 1 Pet 5:8-9).

Christians can also be deceived (Matt 24:5, 11, 24; Eph 5:6; 2 Thes 2:3; 1 Cor 6:9; 2 Cor 11:3; Jam 1:16), give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27), shipwreck their faith (1 Tim 1:19) and fall away (Luke 8:13; Gal 5:4).

Statement 5: “If you don’t come to the ‘revival?meeting, you might miss a blessing from God.

Answer: Christians are already experiencing blessings from God because of the gospel (1 Cor 9:23) of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3) through the Holy Spirit (Isa 44:3; Gal 3:14). I also do not believe that revival comes before repentance (Acts 3:19). Repentance only comes as a result of the gospel message being clearly preached (Col 1:28, 4:4; 1 Thes 1:5) which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom 1:16). The only way we can miss a blessing from God is to fail to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints?(Jude 1:3) and to no longer follow Jesus (John 6:66), being “carried about with divers and strange doctrines”(Heb 13:9).

Statement 6: “It is easier for a person to receive the ‘anointing?if they stop analyzing so much and empty their minds. ‘God offends the mind to reveal the heart.?

Answer: Christians are never to empty their minds. Our minds allow us to know God’s will (Rom 12:2), show God we love Him (Matt 22:37), and be kept in perfect peace (Isa 26:3). We need to fill our minds with the Word of Christ (Col 3:16). Emptying your mind is an occult technique used by Hindus and other false religions. God created our minds (Gen 1:27; 1 Tim 4:4), which are always to be submitted to His will (Matt 6:10, 26:42). Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” However, if we are offended by the “offence of the cross? we had better check to see if we are saved (Gal 5:11).

Statement 7: “Come and sit under the teaching of latter day apostles and prophets who are even greater than the Apostles and Prophets of Scripture.

Answer: The Bible says that the church is built on the Cornerstone, which is Christ Jesus (1 Pet 2:6) and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20). The spiritual building of the church is in its last phase. We must not and cannot lay another foundation for a house that Christ has already built on the Cornerstone and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Another question to ask is: are these people they are talking about persecuted and being put to death for the cause of Christ (2 Cor 4:8-9, 6:4-10; Heb 11:36-37)”Or are they making a name for themselves and becoming rich” It is likely you will find they are “talkers and deceivers?who “subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”(Titus 1:10-11)

Statement 8: “God used the ‘force of faith” to speak the universe into existence, so we can also use the ‘force of faith” to speak health, wealth and anything else into being. Never pray ‘Thy will be done” because it shows you have a lack of faith.

Answer: You’ve been watching too much Star Wars buddy. You have also been listening to heretical teachers like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. God did not use any “force of faith?to create the world. He did so by His Word (2 Pet 3:5), His power (Isa 20:46), and by His will (Rev 4:11). We do not command God, but we may ask, seek and knock (Matt 7:7). However, we must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14) as long as His words remain in us (John 15:7). I do not believe in ordering God to do our bidding, like Balaam attempted to do on behalf of Balak (Num 22:8, 2 Pet 2:15, Jude 1:11). That is witchcraft, which God forbids (Deut 18:10, Gal 5:19-21). We always pray “Thy will be done? just as Jesus, John, David, Peter, Paul, James and the Holy Spirit did (Matt 6:10, 26:42; Luke 11:2; 1 John 2:17, 5:14, 15; Ps 40:8; Heb 10:7; Rom 8:27; 1 Pet 3:17; Col 1:9, Jam 4:13-16).

Statement 9: “Listen to all the positive testimonies. They are a good indication that God is doing a work of revival in these meetings.”

Answer: Testimonies are subjective. That is, they are not easily proven. What really happened? Was the person really healed and for how long? Positive testimonies of life changing experiences and miracles can be found in every religion and cult in the world. Testimonies are nice, but we must not base our faith on them. The first way we are to judge a person or movement is by their doctrinal teachings. If they are teaching false doctrine, you can be sure that it is not a revival from God. Here are some discernment questions to ask:

1) Are the revival leaders “workers of righteousness’ or “workers of iniquity’ Does financial greed or good works characterize them? (Matt 23:25; 1 Thes 2:5) Good doctrine or fables? (1 Tim 4:1-8) Deep Christian character, or selfish ambition? (Jam 3:14-18) Are they “law-full?or “lawless’ (Matt 7:15-23)

2) What are the long term fruits in terms of Christian character–especially faithfulness, truth, love, mercy, and righteousness? (Matt 7:16-20; Gal 5:22, 23; Eph 5:9; Jam 3:14-18)

3) Does the revival as a whole display a love of sound doctrine? What is the revival leader’s attitude about Scripture? (2 Pet 3:13-18; 1 Tim 4:1-8)

4) Does the revival have a clear aim? Is it taking people somewhere? Can the results of the movement be built on by later generations? Is it a “house of straw?or a well-constructed foundation for the future? Is it built on Christ–that is, the historical Jesus of Scripture? (Matt 7:15-29; 1 Cor 3:10-17)

5) Are the revival leaders sound morally? Does the revival manage to avoid the twin dangers of immorality on one hand, or overbearing legalism on the other? (Col 2:18-23; Jude 1:4)

6) What is the attitude of the revival to the rest of the body of Christ? Is it humble or proud? Is it boastful? Does it separate itself?

Statement 10: “Did you know that since you belong to Christ you are a ‘little god?or a ‘little messiah? You are everything that God is. You are ‘I Am”

Answer: We believers are all children of God (John 1:12), sons of God (Gal 3:26), and together the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7). We are not Christ Himself, nor are we God. If we are little gods, then the statement that there is only on God would be untrue (Rom 3:30). There is also only one Father’s Son, who is Jesus Christ (2 John 1:3). This “little gods?teaching by people like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn is a doctrine of demons because it is one of the first lies Satan told Eve (Gen 3:5) and the sin of Satan himself (Isa 14:13-14). Also, the body of Christ is no Christ Himself. Christ is the Head of His church (Eph 1:10). Jesus is 100% man and 100% God for all eternity and physically sits at the right hand of God in His glorified body (Rom 8:34; Col 2:9). He is coming again bodily to rule and judge the earth (Rev 11:15).

Statement 11: “Those who question the teachings of the leaders of the revival may end up cursed.

Answer: It is true they may be cursed, but not by God. Many revival leaders have cursed any person to death that disagrees with what they are doing and teaching. Benny Hinn has done this many times, as well as John Kilpatrick, Steve Hill and Michael Brown of Brownville, and Paul Crouch of TBN. God commands us to discern truth from error (Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17, John 7:24), test the spirits (1 John 4:1), check what is taught with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor 10:15, Isa 8:20; 1 Cor 4:6), and reject heretics (Titus 3:10). We are also commanded of God not to curse, like these men curse and persecute us, but to bless. (Rom 12:14)

Statement 12: “The Bible says: ‘Judge not lest you be judged.’ Don’t judge this move of God or its leaders. ‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed.’

Answer: The kind of judging in Matt 7:1 is hypocritical judgment. In other words, judging someone for what they are doing while you are doing the same thing. However, there are many ways in which we ARE called to judge. We are to judge what people teach (1 Cor 10:15, Acts 17:11), judge between right and wrong morally (1 Cor 5:11-13; Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17; John 7:24), test the spirits (1 John 4:1). If a person or movement is teaching false doctrine or making false prophecies, we are to rebuke them (Titus 1:13). If they do not repent, we are to come away from them (Rev 18:4), mark them and avoid them (Rom 16:17), have no fellowship with them (Eph 5:1), withdraw from them (2 Thes 3:6), turn away from them (2 Tim 3:5-7), separate ourselves from them (2 Cor 6:17), and not even receive them into our homes (2 John 10, 11). As to the “touch not the Lord’s anointed?argument, David did not “touch?or kill Saul. But he did rebuke him in front of his entire army on two separate occasions. Though we do not kill false prophets as they did in the Old Testament (Deut 17:2-5; Lev 24:11-14), we are called to test them, rebuke them, and avoid them if they do not repent.

Statement 13: “Gamaliel advised ?..let them alone: for if…this work be of men, it will come to naught: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it…?Just wait and see how this revival turns out in the end. Don’t stand against it.”

Answer: Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee and teacher of the day, but he was no friend of the Christians. While his advice had saved the apostles, Gamaliel had actually given some bad advice to his fellow council members. Were people to follow this advice, one would never speak out against error. One could never stand up and say about a group claiming Jesus Christ as their leader that, for instance, Mormonism is wrong. We are called as Christians to discern error (Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17; John 7:24) and to mark and avoid (Rom 16:17) those who are divisive [Tending to create discord or dissension . . . in other words a “troublemaker’-Ed. ] and heretical (Titus 3:10).

Statement 14: “A great end time revival is preparing the earth to be subdued by the anointed. All authority will be given to the ‘manchild?and then Christ can return in His Church.

Answer: As I stated previously, the Bible does not indicate a great end times revival or awakening, but rather a great deception (Mark 13; 2 Thes 2:3; 2 Pet 2:1; Matt 24:4), delusion (2 Thes 2:9-12), and the love of people growing cold (Matt 24:12). Our place as Christians is not to subdue the earth, as Christ will do that when He returns (Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27, 19:15). Our job is to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15; 1 Cor 9:16; 2 Cor 9:13) and take care of the less fortunate, keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world (Jam 1:7). All authority is given to Christ (Matt 28:18). Any authority we have is based on obedience to the will of the Father (Col 2:10, Rom 15:18). We will not have authority over the nations during the millennial reign of Christ unless we overcome by faith and do God’s will to the end (Rev 2:26)

Statement 15: “It is better to have the devil manifesting in a meeting than for that meeting to be dead.

Answer: Rodney Howard-Browne said: “I’d rather be in a church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything…and if the devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening.?(Rodney Howard-Browne, The Coming Revival. 1991, pg.6) What an awful thing to say. It does look like the devil has been “manifesting?in many Third Wave meetings because the following have been observed: uncontrollable laughing, crying, shaking, running around the church building, fast dancing, running followed by collapse, barking-howling, trances, drunkenness, falling out, oinking, being “hot? fanning self or blowing, walking like chickens, horse noises, mooing and crowing, swimming, women going through imaginary birth pains, loss of consciousness, trying to soar like eagles, hissing and moving like a snake, inability to speak, involuntary body spasms, kung fu-like stances, vomiting, head banging, and stripping off clothes (I’ve seen most of these).

God is not a God of disorder, so we must conduct ourselves in an orderly way (1 Cor 14:33). These are not manifestations of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit builds us up to be more like Christ, not lowering us to animal behavior (Rom 8:9; Phil 1:27; 1 Thes 5:23). These manifestations are more like demonization described in Scripture (1 Sam 16:14, 18:10; Matt 8:28, 9:32, 12:22; Mark 1:23, 26, 7:25, 9:25; Luke 4:33-35, 8:29, 9:42; Acts 19:16).

Statement 16: “Well, there are unusual things going on at the revival meeting! God can do anything He wants to do. Don’t put God in a box!

Answer: Is it possible for any person to put God in a box? What a ridiculous statement! God is sovereign, almighty, omnipresent, and omniscient. However, God did limit the way He evidences Himself and the way He works in this creation. God could have made people purple with green hair. He could have made reincarnation true. But He didn’t. What He did do was put His Word and Testimony in the Scriptures (Isa 8:20), which we are not to go beyond (1 Cor 4:6). He set down His will in His Law in the Old Testament (Ex 24:12), and the Law of Christ in the New Testament, which is grace (Gal 6:2). God’s character is consistent and faithful (Rev 3:14, 9:11; Ps 33:4) and He does not change (Num 23:19; Heb 13:8). If something unbiblical is happening in a meeting or to an individual, it is not from God.

Statement 17: “I have been praying for the ‘power?to come upon me for a long time and it is here. I can feel it! It has changed my life for the better.

Answer: There is no place in the Bible where we are told to pray for power. Therefore this is a very dangerous prayer. We also should not summon the Holy Spirit to meetings, because He is already present where two or three are gathered together (Matt 18:20). Summoning or invoking is sorcery. The Scriptures do show us what to pray for. Here are some examples:

1) Pray for the people of your nation (Num 21:7)
2) Pray for your city (Jer 29:7)
3) Pray for peace in Jerusalem (Ps 122:6)
4) Pray for your persecutors (Matt 5:43-44; Luke 6:28)
5) Pray for children (Matt 19:13)
6) Pray for escape from judgment (Luke 21:36)
7) Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)
8) Pray for Christians (Job 17:9; 1 Thes 5:25; Heb 13:18)
9) Pray for boldness in proclaiming the gospel and for God to do miracles in people’s lives (Acts 4:29-31)
10) Pray all the time, be alert, pray for the saints (Eph 6:18)
11) Pray for fearless preaching (Eph 6:20)
12) Pray to be filled with the knowledge of His will (Col 1:9)
13) Pray for open doors for the gospel (Col 4:3)
14) Pray that the Word of God may be glorified (2 Thes 3:1)
15) Pray for deliverance from evil men (2 Thes 3:2)
16) Pray for everyone, kings, authorities, peace, quiet, godliness, holiness (1 Tim 2:1,2)

There are other things we are taught to pray for in Scripture, but the point is that we need to follow the Scriptural model of prayer.

There are only two places where the “prayer’ and “power?are mentioned. “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power? (2 Thes 1:11)

He was not praying for them to get power, but that God by His power would “fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness? This is by the sovereign will of God, which if followed will produce good works. If God’s will is not followed, it can only produce fleshly or demonic fruit. The second reference is this: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth all knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.?(Eph 3:16-19)

Here again, Paul is praying for the Ephesians, not for himself. He prays that the indwelling Holy Spirit will show them how much Christ loves them, so they may be “filled with all the fullness of God.?This speaks of empowerment to have love and faith and to understand Christ in a deeper way, not power to perform miracles or for an ecstatic experience. There is no prayer for “power?to found in the Bible. Christians need to pray according to the will of God and leave empowerment up to the Holy Spirit in His time.

Statement 18: “Why don’t you come and be healed at the revival meeting? God guarantees healing for everyone who has enough faith.

Answer: First of all, there are all kinds of healing. When God heals, He does true creative miracles that last (John 12:1-10; Matt 11:5). There are also “healings’ that are just people getting excited and thinking they are healed, but when the excitement wears off, they are just as bad or worse than before. Remember, the enemy can also heal (Rev 13:14) as well as cause sickness (Job 2:7). Healings and miracles by the devil are temporary and do not last very long, or are false miracles (2 Thes 2:9-10). Those who allow people who are not living in obedience to God’s will to lay hands on them for healing give the enemy a foothold in their lives (Eph 4:27) that he will not let go of without repentance and deliverance. By very careful of those who claim they can heal you. You had better know a whole lot about them before you allow them to lay hands on you (1 John 4:1). Secondly, God does not guarantee healing for everyone who believes (Job 2:2-4; 2 Cor 12:7). Sometimes He allows sickness and difficulties in our lives to teach us lessons such as: our weakness and His strength (2 Cor 12:10, 13:4), our dependence on His grace (Rom 9:16), our need for an overcoming faith (Rev 3:12). It is true that we are told to pray for the sick in faith and the Lord will heal and forgive (Jam 5:15) but sometimes we must also suffer sickness and persecution (1 Pet 1:6, 4:14-19; 2 Cor 1:6). Trials are used by God to develop perseverance and faith. (Jam 1:2-4)

Statement 19: “You should come to the meetings, because there is a prophet there who will prophesy over you if you ask him. He has been wrong a couple of times, but then prophets today do not have to be 100% correct, only about 60% as prophet Bob Jones prophesied’

The Bible is clear on this: “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him (Deut 18:20-22).?br> This precept is not cancelled out in the New Testament. Bob Jones is a false prophet who conveniently ignored the Word of God so he could continue to prophesy falsely. The Scriptural precept of 100% accuracy for a prophet is for our own protection. Many Christians mistake human intuition and even demonic voices, whether they are correct or incorrect, for the “still small voice?of the Spirit. It is a dangerous thing to promote what you are saying as a direct word from God. Once you say, “Thus saith the Lord?’ what you have prophesied does not come true, then you are a lying false prophet and church discipline must be applied. Only God can truly forgive false prophecy when a person chooses to speak directly for Him. The church should ignore false prophets (Jer 23:16). People who continue to sit under their teachings are opening themselves up to deception (Jer 23:10-12).

Statement 20: “The speaker last night had a wonderful vision where Elijah appeared to him and told him what happen in our land. Listen to what he said…

Answer: If any dead person is allegedly appearing and giving messages, that is expressly forbidden in Scripture for believers. “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of the times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer (Deut 18:10-11). Talking to dead people is necromancy, or being a medium. Talking to the dead is actually talking to demons. Benny Hinn has done this on numerous occasions, seeing dead people (a la The Sixth Sense) like Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson. He even visits their graves to get more of the “anointing? Stay far away from people who are into necromancy, whether they claim to be a believer or not. “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead’ To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa 8:9-10).?

Statement 21: “The teachers at the revival meetings teach some things that are a little different from what the Bible says, but they are so powerful and sure of themselves. It must be of God’

Answer: If teachers do not hold to the basic doctrines of the church, they are not true believers. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29). There are many doctrines, but there are five at the core of Christianity.

1) The Trinity: God must be one “What?and three “Whos? with each “Who?possessing all the
attributes of Deity and personality.
2) The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.
3) The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.
4) Salvation: It is by grace through faith ALONE in Christ ALONE.
5) The Scripture: It is ENTIRELY INERRANT and INFALLIBLE, sufficient for all Christian life

Study what they teach carefully. They may state that they agree with the above doctrines, but by what they teach and “do’ a false teacher will deny one or all of these core doctrines. The Third Wave teachers have proven over time that they do not hold to these doctrines by teaching heresy that undermines them. For instance, when they treat the Spirit as a substance, an “it? both Deity and personality is denied, thus denying the Triune nature of God. Or when they preach a gospel of “repent and come to Jesus’ without mentioning the cross and resurrection, salvation by grace through faith in Christ is denied. Be on the alert and “study to show thyself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).?

Stand firm in your faith! Always be discerning by checking everything with the Word of God.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thes 2:15). yes” Stand up for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

Don’t ever let anyone cause you to stop doing that. “Beloved, when I gave you all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:3-4).

Be aware that many false teachers have gone out today. Test their teachings in the Word, because they are deadly dangerous. “But there are false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who provably shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Pet 2:1).

Finally, correct, rebuke and encourage because many are turning from true faith in Christ to heresy. Endure hardship from those who persecute you and tell you that you need to get involved in some “new?thing. Preach the gospel and live in obedience to the Word and Will of God. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry (2 Tim 4:2-5).

http://www.teamtruth.com/articles/art_wordoffaith.htm#force

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This Assemblies of God position paper is a response to what the denomination considers to be extremes in the Faith Movement. The denomination is obligated to distance themselves from errors and extremes that have their roots in Pentecostalism.

The Believer And Positive Confession

The Life of Faith

The Assemblies of God from its early days has recognized the importance of the life of faith. It has been given prominent e-mphasis because Scripture gives it prominence.

The writer to the Hebrews points out that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then he describes faith as believing two things–that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

All the blessings which God has for His people are received through faith. Salvation (Acts 16:31), baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), divine preservation (1 Peter 1:5), inheritance of the promises which include healing and provision of material needs (Hebrews 6:12), and motivation for witnessing (2 Corinthians 4:13) are among the many provisions of God’s grace.

Today, as in every generation, it is important for believers to be mindful of the example in Scripture of being strong in faith (Romans 4:20-24). They must be on guard against anything which would weaken or destroy faith. They need to pray for its increase (Luke 17:5) and constantly seek to cultivate it through reading the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The life of faith is the life of victory (1 John 5:4).

The Believer and Positive Confession

Occasionally throughout church history people have taken extreme positions concerning great Biblical truths. Sometimes teachers have advocated these extremes. On other occasions followers have gone beyond the teachings and reflected adversely on the cause of Christ.

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Positive and negative confession are expressions which in recent years have received acceptance in an extreme form in some circles. Both the definition in writing and the pattern of usage give some insight into the implications of these terms.

The fact that extremes are brought into focus does not imply rejection of the doctrine of confession. It is an important truth. The Bible teaches people are to confess their sin (1 John 1:9). They are to confess Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9, 10). They are to maintain a good confession (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23, ASV).

But when people, in emphasizing a doctrine, go beyond or contrary to the teaching of Scripture, they do not honor that doctrine. Conversely, they bring reproach upon it and the work of the Lord. For this reason it is important to call attention to these excesses and show how they are in conflict with the Word of God.

Some Positions of the Positive Confession Teaching

The positive confession teaching relies on an English dictionary definition of the word confess: “to acknowledge, or to own; to acknowledge faith in.” Confession is also described as affirming something which is believed, testifying to something known, and witnessing for a truth which has been embraced.

This view goes a step further and divides confession into negative and positive aspects. The negative is acknowledging sin, sickness, poverty, or other undesirable situations. Positive confession is acknowledging or owning desirable situations.

While there are variations of interpretation and emphasis concerning this teaching, a conclusion seems to be that the unpleasant can be avoided by refraining from negative confessions. The pleasant can be enjoyed by making positive confessions.

According to this view, as expressed in various publications, the believer who refrains from acknowledging the negative and continues to affirm the positive will assure for himself pleasant circumstances. He will be able to rule over poverty, disease, and sickness. He will be sick only if he confesses he is sick. Some make a distinction between acknowledging the symptoms of an illness and the illness itself.

This view advocates that God wants believers to wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything. Believers need not suffer financial setbacks. All they need to do is to tell Satan to take his hands off their money. The believer can have whatever he says whether the need is spiritual, physical, or financial. It is taught that faith compels God’s action.

According to this position, what a person says determines what he will receive and what he will become. Thus people are instructed to start confessing even though what they want may not have been realized. If a person wants money, he is to confess he has it even if it is not true. If a person wants healing, he is to confess it even though it is obviously not the case. People are told they can have whatever they say, and for this reason great significance is attached to the spoken word. It is claimed the spoken word, if repeated often enough, will eventually result in faith which procures the desired blessing.

It is understandable that some people would like to accept the positive confession teaching. It promises a life free from problems, and its advocates seem to support it with passages of Scripture. Problems develop, however, when Bible statements are isolated from their context and from what the rest of Scripture has to say concerning the subject. Extremes result which distort truth and eventually hurt believers as individuals and the cause of Christ in general.

When believers study the life of faith and victory God has for His people, it is important, as in all doctrine, to seek for the balanced emphasis of Scripture. This will help to avoid the extremes which eventually frustrate rather than help believers in their walk with God.

Believers Should Consider the Total Teaching of Scripture.

The apostle Paul gave an important principle of interpreting Scripture which calls for “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). The basic thrust of this principle is to consider everything God’s Word has to say on a given subject in establishing doctrine. Only doctrine based on a holistic view of Scripture conforms to this Biblical rule of interpretation.

When the positive confession teaching indicates that to admit weakness is to accept defeat, to admit financial need is to accept poverty, and to admit sickness is to preclude healing, it is going beyond and is contrary to the harmony of Scripture.

For instance, King Jehoshaphat admitted he had no might against an enemy alliance, but God gave him a marvelous victory (2 Chronicles 20). Paul admitted weakness and then stated that when he was weak, he was strong because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

It was after the disciples recognized they did not have enough to feed the multitudes and admitted it that Christ marvelously provided a more than adequate supply (Luke 9:12, 13). It was after the disciples admitted they had caught no fish that Jesus directed them to a most successful endeavor (John 21:3-6).

These people were not told to replace negative confessions with positive confessions which were contrary to fact. They stated conditions exactly as they were rather than pretending they were something else. Yet God marvelously intervened even though they made what some would call negative confessions.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture makes it clear that positive verbal expressions do not always produce happy effects nor do negative statements always result in unhappy effects. To teach that leaders in the early days of the Church such as Paul, Stephen, and Trophimus did not live in a constant state of affluence and health because they did not have the light on this teaching is going beyond and contrary to the Word of God. Doctrine will be sound only as it is developed within the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

The Greek word translated “confess” means “to speak the same thing.” When people confess Christ, it is to say the same thing as Scripture does concerning Christ. When people confess sin, it is to say the same as Scripture does concerning sin. And when people confess some promise of Scripture, they must be sure they are saying the same thing about that promise as the total teaching of Scripture on that subject.

The words of Augustine are appropriate in this regard: “If you believe what you like in the gospel and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Believers Should Consider Adequately the Will of God.

When the positive confession doctrine indicates a person can have whatever he says, it fails to emphasize adequately that God’s will must be considered. David had the best intentions when he indicated his desire to build a temple for the Lord, but it was not God’s will (1 Chronicles 17:4). David was permitted to gather materials, but Solomon was to build the temple.

Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, but it was not God’s will. Instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s will can be known and claimed by faith, but the desire of the heart is not always the criterion by which the will of God is determined. There are times when the enjoyable or pleasurable may not be the will of God. James alluded to this when he wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). The word translated “lusts” does not refer to perverted desire but to pleasure or enjoyment; that which the heart desires. Several translations use the word “pleasure” rather than “lust.”

In Gethsemane Jesus asked that if it were possible the cup might be removed. That was His desire, but in His prayer He recognized the will of God. He said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

The Bible recognizes there will be times when a believer will not know what to pray for. He will not know what the will of God is. He may even be perplexed as Paul sometimes was (2 Corinthians 4:8). Then, rather than simply making a positive confession based on the desires of the heart, the believer needs to recognize the Holy Spirit makes intercession for him according to the will of God (Romans 8:26, 27).

God’s will always must have priority over the believer’s plans or desires. The words of James should be kept constantly in view: “Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).

Getting what the believer wants is not as simple as repeating a positive confession. Pleasant things might be out of the will of God; and, conversely, unpleasant things might be in the will of God. It is important for the believer to say as Paul’s friends did, “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14)–more important than to demand a life free from suffering.

Believers Should Recognize the Importance of Importunate Prayer.

When the positive confession view teaches that believers are to confess rather than to pray for things which God has promised, it overlooks the teaching of God’s Word concerning importunate prayer. According to some who hold this view of positive confession, God’s promises are in the area of material, physical, and spiritual blessings; believers are to claim or confess these blessings and not to pray for them.

The instruction not to pray for promised blessings is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. Food is one of God’s promised blessings, yet Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Wisdom is a promised blessing of God, yet Scripture states, if any man “lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). Jesus called the Holy Spirit the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), and yet He also taught that God would give the Holy Spirit to them that ask (Luke 11:13).

While there were times God told people not to pray, as in the case of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15), there are many Scriptures reminding believers to pray, and that, without ceasing (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Jesus emphasized the importance of importunity in prayer. The illustration of the persistent friend who came at midnight asking for bread to set before his guests became the basis for Christ’s statement, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:5-10). The parable of the widow and the unjust judge became the occasion for our Lord to emphasize importunity in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). These people were commended for importunity and not for prayerless positive confession.

While God’s ways are above man’s ways, and we cannot understand the reason for every command in Scripture, we do know that in His wisdom God has ordained prayer as part of the process included in meeting a need. Rather than an indication of doubt, importunate prayer can be an indication of obedience and faith.

Believers Should Recognize They Can Expect Suffering in This Life.

The positive confession teaching advocates reigning as kings in this life. It teaches that believers are to dominate and not be dominated by circumstances. Poverty and sickness are usually mentioned among the circumstances over which believers are to have dominion.

If believers choose the kings of this world as models, it is true they will seek the trouble-free life (although even kings of this world are not free from problems). They will be more concerned with physical and material prosperity than with spiritual growth.

When believers choose the King of kings as their model, however, their desires will be completely different. They will be transformed by His teaching and example. They will recognize the truth of Romans 8:17 which is written concerning joint-heirs with Christ: “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Paul even went so far as to glory in his infirmities instead of denying them (2 Corinthians 12:5-10).

Though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He could say, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

While God in His providence has endowed some with the ability to accumulate greater wealth than others, something is tragically lacking if there is not a willingness to do the will of God and surrender all, if need be, including creature comforts.

Jesus never ceased to be God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit performed many miracles; yet He was not free from suffering. He knew He must suffer many things of the elders (Matthew 16:21; 17:12). He desired to eat the Passover with the disciples before He suffered (Luke 22:15). After His death, the disciples recognized that Christ’s suffering was a fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 24:25, 26, 32).

When believers realize that reigning as kings in this life is to take Christ as the model of a king, they will recognize suffering can be involved; that sometimes it is more kingly to stay with unpleasant circumstances than to try to make all circumstances pleasant.

Paul had been shown he would suffer (Acts 9:16). Later he rejoiced in his sufferings for the Colossians. He saw his suffering as filling up “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

God promises to supply the needs of believers, and He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation; but reigning in life as Christ did may also include suffering. The committed believer will accept this. He will not be disillusioned if life is not a continual series of pleasant experiences. He will not become cynical if he does not have all the desires of his heart.

He will recognize the servant is not greater than his Master. To follow Christ requires denying ourselves (Luke 9:23). This includes denying our selfish desires and may include admitting our problems.

Problems are not always an indication of lack of faith. To the contrary, they can be a tribute to faith. This is the great emphasis of Hebrews 11:32-40:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

To hold that all suffering results from negative confessions and indicates a lack of faith contradicts the Scripture. Some heroes of faith suffered greatly, some even died through faith, and they were commended for it.

Believers Should Recognize the Sovereignty of God.

The positive confession emphasis has a tendency to include statements which make it appear that man is sovereign and God is the servant. Statements are made about compelling God to act, implying He has surrendered His sovereignty; that He is no longer in a position to act according to His wisdom and purpose. Reference is made to true prosperity being the ability to use God’s ability and power to meet needs regardless of what the needs are. This puts man in the position of using God rather than man surrendering himself to be used of God.

In this view there is very little consideration given to communion with God in order to discover His will. There is very little appeal to search the Scriptures for the framework of the will of God. There is little emphasis on the kind of discussion with fellow believers which results in two or three agreeing what the will of God might be. Instead, the desire of the heart is viewed as a binding mandate on God. It is seen as constituting the authority of the believer.

It is true that Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). But Scripture also teaches that the asking must be in harmony with the will of God. “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14, 15).

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is still an important injunction today. God is God. He will not surrender His glory or sovereignty to anyone. No one will compel God to action.

The authority of the believer exists only in the will of God, and it is the believer’s responsibility to discover and conform to the will of the sovereign God even in the things he desires. Paul’s words are still applicable: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

When believers recognize the sovereignty of God and properly become concerned with the will of God, they will not talk in terms of compelling God or using God’s power. They will speak of becoming obedient servants. They will desire to become yielded instruments in the hands of God.

Believers Should Apply the Practical Test.

In reviewing the efforts of those who advocate this positive confession teaching it is evident that the basic appeal is to those who are already Christians living in an affluent society. They encourage a spiritual elitism in which adherents say, “We believe the same things you do. The difference is that we practice what we believe.”

A practical test of a belief is whether it has a universal application. Does the teaching have meaning only for those living in an affluent society? Or does it also work among the refugees of the world? What application does the teaching have for believers imprisoned for their faith by atheistic governments? Are those believers substandard who suffer martyrdom or grave physical injury at the hands of cruel, ruthless dictators?

The truth of God’s Word has a universal application. It is as effective in the slums as in suburbia. It is as effective in the jungle as in the city. It is as effective in foreign countries as in our own nation. It is as effective among deprived nations as among the affluent. The test of fruit is still one way of determining whether a teacher or teaching is of God or of man. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).

Believers Should Accurately Deal With the Word Rhema.

Because there is very little literature among those who espouse the positive confession teaching concerning the Greek word rhema, it is necessary to consider it as used primarily in oral communication.

A distinction is generally made by proponents of this view between the words logos and rhema. The first, it is claimed, refers to the written word. The second, to that which is presently spoken by faith. According to this view whatever is spoken by faith becomes inspired and takes on the creative power of God.

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both.

In the case of the Septuagint both rhema and logos are used to translate the one Hebrew word dabar which is used in various ways relative to communication. For instance, the word dabar (translated, word of God) is used in both Jeremiah 1:1 and 2. Yet in the Septuagint it is translated rhema in verse 1 and logos in verse 2.

In the New Testament the words rhema and logos are also used interchangeably. This can be seen in passages such as 1 Peter 1:23 and 25. In verse 23, it is “the logos of God which . . . abideth for ever.” In verse 25, “the rhema of the Lord endureth for ever.” Again in Ephesians 5:26 believers are cleansed “with the washing of water by the rhema.” In John 15:3 believers are “clean through the logos.”

The distinctions between logos and rhema cannot be sustained by Biblical evidence. The Word of God, whether referred to as logos or rhema, is inspired, eternal, dynamic, and miraculous. Whether the Word is written or spoken does not alter its essential character. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

A second problem also exists among those who make a distinction between the words logos and rhema. Passages of Scripture are sometimes selected without regard to context or analogy of faith which they claim to speak by faith. In this kind of application of the so-called rhema principle, adherents are more concerned with making the Word mean what they want it to mean than in becoming what the Word wants them to become. In some instances it becomes obvious they love God more for what He does than for who He is.

It is important for believers to avoid any form of Christian existentialism which isolates passages of Scripture from the context or makes some passages eternal and others contemporary.

Conclusion

In considering any doctrine it is always necessary to ask whether it is in harmony with the total teaching of Scripture. Doctrine based on less than a holistic view of Biblical truth can only do harm to the cause of Christ. It can often be more detrimental than views which reject Scripture altogether. Some people will more likely accept something as truth if it is referred to in the Word of God, even if the teaching is an extreme emphasis or contradicts other principles of Scripture.

God’s Word does teach great truths such as healing, provision for need, faith, and the authority of believers. The Bible does teach that a disciplined mind is an important factor in victorious living. But these truths must always be considered in the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

When abuses occur, there is sometimes a temptation to draw back from these great truths of God’s Word. In some cases people even lose out with God altogether when they discover that exaggerated emphases do not always meet their expectations or result in freedom from problems.

The fact that doctrinal aberrations develop, however, is not a reason for rejecting or remaining silent concerning them. The existence of differences of opinion is all the more reason why believers should continue diligently to search the Scriptures. It is why servants of God must faithfully declare the whole counsel of God.

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THE PROSPERITY MOVEMENT:Wounded Charismatics by Roger L. Smalling, D.Min

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The “God” in the Mirror

Chapter 2: Faith or Fiction

Chapter 3: Sovereignty and Suffering

Chapter 4: Origins of Word of Faith

Chapter 5: Positive Confession

Chapter 6: Wounded Faith

Chapter 7: Just Like Your Soul Prospers

Chapter 8: As Rich As Abraham

Chapter 9: Sufficiency, Yes!

Chapter 10: The Jesus Died Spiritually Heresy

Chapter 11: Job and the Kingdom

Chapter 12: The Psychology Behind the Word Movement

Chapter 13: Denying the Symptoms: Is it valid?

Chapter 14: Did Jesus Heal Them All?

Chapter 15: How To Grow in Faith

Appendix A: Comparative Chart, Word of Faith vs Bible Appendix B: On “Divine Nature” 2Pe.1:3-4  Appendix C: 150 Verses Word of Faith Cultists Don’t Like to Hear

http://www.smallings.com/Books/ProspENG.htm#Ch4 

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Chapter 4: The Origins of Word of Faith

Word of Faith has its roots in a pagan cult that rivaled Christianity during the first three centuries of the Christian era, known as Gnosticism. The early Church fathers, such as Iranaeus eventually refuted and destroyed it.

Various Gnostic cults existed, but all held to a form of Dualism. This meant matter is bad and spirit is good. The Bible, however, teaches God created both realms and called all creation, spiritual and material, ‘good’.

Some Gnostics even taught two gods: An evil one which governed the material realm and a good one, the spiritual. All, however, held that a series of spiritual laws exist between the two dimensions by which both realms could be controlled. Certain spiritually elite people were endowed with a special “gnosis” or “revelation knowledge” by which they could learn to manipulate these laws to their advantage … even to controlling their own spiritual destinies.

A Gnostic goal was to attain to divinity and become a kind of creative “god.” This was through the “releasing” of his spirit from the material realm through his special “knowledge” of the mystical forces governing the universe.

Iranaeus, one of the third century fathers who combated Gnosticism in his book Against Heresies, comments on the spiritual pride characteristic of Gnostics:

They consider themselves ‘mature’, so that no one can be compared with them in the greatness of their Knowledge, not even if you mention Peter or Paul or any of the other apostles…” (I, XIII, 6)

.”..such a person becomes so puffed up that he … walks with a strutting gait and a supercilious countenance, possessing all the pompous air of a cock! (III, XV, 2)

The parallels between ancient Gnosticism and Word of Faith are too striking to ignore. But how did Gnosticism get transported into the 20th Century?

For this information, we are deeply indebted to Judith Matta, author of The Christian Response to Gnostic Charismatic Heresies.[29]Judith is probably the foremost expert in the U.S. today on the Gnostic origins of Word of Faith. She is a graduate of Talbot Theological seminary and a first-class scholar.

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In 1875, Mary Baker Eddy published Science and Health, thus launching the Christian Science sect. The First Church of Christ Scientist was founded in Boston in 1879. Eddy had adapted many of the early Gnostic concepts in her writings, which included the denial of the reality of illness and matter.

One of the early converts to Christian Science, and a member of the Mother Church from 1903 until his death in 1908, was Dr. C.W. Emerson. He founded a college in Boston around the turn of the century called Emerson School of Oratory. This was a prep school for boys, not a Bible school.

One of the early students of Emerson’s school was a young man by the name of E.W. Kenyon. Kenyon picked up some of the Gnostic concepts and incorporated them into his own writings later on.

The terms, “Word of Faith” and “Revelation Knowledge” are found throughout Kenyon’s books. Positive rhetoric characterized his style and much of what he wrote is legitimate. He exalts the power and lordship of Christ skillfully and expounds certain aspects of the authority of the believer. Unfortunately, errors abound in nearly every chapter.

His booklet, Two Kinds of Knowledge, is especially dangerous because of its subtlety. In it, he falls into the usual Gnostic and mystic trap of using reason to deny the validity of reason. Information derived from our five senses, he terms “sense knowledge” and the correlation of that information is done by logic. But “revelation knowledge” comes directly to our spirit, bypassing both reason and five senses. Kenyon believed that since God is spiritual, it is impossible to understand God or spiritual truth without this special “revelation.”

Through this, a dangerous and subtle error enters. If a person swallows it, then the Bible itself comes to be judged by the standard of the “revelation knowledge” that one experiences subjectively. Subtly and unconsciously, the reader of Kenyon becomes his own standard of truth.

Kenyon forgot the eye that reads the Bible, the ear, which hears it, and the brain that correlates it are all physical organs. The Bible is a human book as well as Divine. Bypassing the senses and reason inevitably leads to bypassing the Bible also. Untrained Christians eager for supernatural experiences can easily fall into Kenyon-style mysticism.

Kenyon died in 1948, but the Gnostic torch didn’t die with him. It was embraced by a young Pentecostal hungry for the supernatural, Kenneth Hagin … the recognized founder and leader of the Word of Faith movement.

Hagin praises Kenyon to the skies in one of his first books, The Name of Jesus, and confesses his deep indebtedness to him. Hagin later passed on these teachings to Kenneth Copeland. Through Copeland came Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, and others. T.L. Osborn also expressed deep debt to Kenyon in a letter to Kenyon’s granddaughter in 1972, calling an him “an Apostle.”

Though Hagin based his views largely on Kenyon, he himself contributed some interesting “revelations” of his own along the way. In the introduction to one of the older editions of his “Art of Intercession,” he describes his eighth “visitation” of Christ. A spirit being, identifying itself as “Jesus Christ,” came into Hagin’s room, sat down and talked for about an hour and a half.

During this visit, the supposed Jesus-spirit gave him a startling “revelation.” All the theologians in the past who taught that God was in absolute control of all things were wrong. Hagin claims, “God is not ruling in this world … And God cannot do anything unless somebody down here asks him.”

This “being” apparently forgot to do its homework before categorically denying the Sovereignty of God.

Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth… Psalm 135:6

That the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men…” Daniel 4:17

In Hagin’s seventh “visitation,” the spirit being told him not to pray for his needs any more but to command the angels to get them. Again, this “being” missed some key scripture. Our Father in heaven…give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 In the context, the Jesus of the Bible commands us to pray to the Father for the fulfillment of our needs.

Am I implying that the “being” who visited Kenneth Hagin and gave him the Word of Faith revelations is not really Jesus Christ, but a deceiving demon? Be assured, I am not implying it. I’m stating it as a fact.

The Hagin hijack: How these teachings entered the Charismatic movement

The Charismatic movement took root in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Sometimes styled ‘Neo-Pentecostalism,’ it was characterized by a rejection of the dead orthodoxy in some traditional denominations, in favor of a new emphasis on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. [30]

In its beginnings, the Charismatic movement was innocuous. Nothing is wrong with seeking new fillings with the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts. In fact, we are commanded by scripture to do so. A fundamental flaw in the movement, however, was the lack of solid theological foundations.

Charismatics had rejected dead orthodoxy. However, many failed to appreciate the alternative….live orthodoxy. Instead, a mindless mysticism developed. Hagin’s teachings found fertile ground in the new movement.

Many Charismatics were middle-class Evangelicals. While interested in exciting experiences, they were less enthusiastic about joining with traditional Pentecostals. Classical Pentecostals were often from a poorer and less educated class.

Charismatics were ripe for fresh teaching within their own sociological context…a scenario primed for a Hagin hijack.

Though Hagin was the acknowledged leader, he was not as articulate as some followers. His country accent, poor grammar and obvious lack of formal education had little appeal to the middle classes.

The movement gained momentum with the more articulate and younger Kenneth Copeland. His book Laws of Prosperity launched him to Faith Movement stardom, offering a new worldview that filled in the theological gaps left by an abandoned orthodoxy.

Books by “faith” teachers flooded the market and the new Charismatics snapped them up like starving fish after bait. Sadly, cash flow rather than truth determined what books appeared in the Christian market. Those with a dissenting voice found it difficult to get their books published.

An even bigger boon for the Prosperity Movement came in the 80’s when Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), announced the faith movement was the route he would take in his programming.

Jim Bakker of the PTL Network and Paul Crouch endorsed the faith movement’s concepts, giving it worldwide exposure. Result: Gnosticism, disguised under the banner of “faith,” began to root itself deeply into the psyche of American Charismatics.

A Roman-American parallel

As with the United States today, Rome had been a prosperous society. In the first three centuries as Christianity was taking root, Rome was in its declining years. The society was rife with corruption. Established governmental and religious institutions seemed helpless to stem perversity throughout society.

The culture struggled in vain to recover a sense of strength and dominance as before. A subtle but widespread insecurity permeated the population. In its wars, Rome began to struggle harder to defeat weak enemies than it did to overcome stronger ones before. We see this in America today. [31]

The middle and upper classes of any society, whether ancient or modern, are used to controlling their own lives. Under insecure social conditions, optimism about the future weakens and their sense of control begins to slip.

These conditions generate a psychological crisis. American Christians today are subject to similar pressure. The dilemma: How to experience the comforts of the gospel while maintaining the sense of control to which they are accustomed. As in Rome, this provides fertile ground for a Gnostic-style pseudo-Christian movement like Word of Faith to take root.

As a convenient byproduct, the teachers reap a financial harvest. Middle and upper-middle classes have money and are responsive to the positive rhetoric and fresh revelations. Everyone seems happy…except God.

The influence of the Prosperity Movement has been partially stemmed by three factors. First, the Assemblies of God, the largest and most influential Pentecostal denomination in the world, repudiated the Word of Faith teachings in an official position paper. [32]

Second, two books warning about the movement were published and became well known: Hank Hanegraaf’s, Christianity In Crisis[33] and Dave Hunt’s Seduction of Christianity.[34]

Finally, the most serious blow came with the fall of Jim Bakker (PTL) in the late ‘80’s, and similar scandals among American TV evangelists. These events, however, were only a trimming of the branches and failed to penetrate the roots of the movement, namely Hagin and Copeland and their false god. Though weakened, the tree still flourishes in the U.S. today.

An historical irony has occurred. The same pagan Gnosticism which rivaled Christianity in the first centuries, which early fathers fought to destroy, has resurrected once again to infect the Church today.

From this chapter we learn…

• The Prosperity Movement is a revival of Gnostic concepts, translated into Christian language.

• These Gnostic ideas were conveyed by Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science cult, to Dr. Emerson of Boston. Eventually, E.W. Kenyon merged them with Christian doctrines.

• Kenneth Hagin embraced Kenyon’s teachings and transmitted them to Kenneth Copeland and others.

• The Word of Faith movement found fertile soil in the Charismatic Movement and virtually hijacked it.

• The movement’s popularity can be explained in sociological terms. Conditions in the United States today are similar to those which fueled Gnosticism in ancient Rome.

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