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Tag Archives: Word-of-Faith

 

My next few post will come from http://www.dyingtoliveabundantlife.com/entry/teachings  

ABOUT Dying to live the Abundant Life.  

Have you ever wished you could die? Of course, you didn’t really want to kill yourself. You just didn’t want to be here anymore! When life gets painful, who has not wished they could just go somewhere and leave it all behind? In one of his Psalms, David expressed it like this: “O, that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”

Even the great apostle Paul, when imprisoned in Rome, said it would be better to die so he could be with the Lord. And when listing the many trials he had to endure through his life, Paul said he had “despaired of life.”

This “death wish” is a natural human response to seemingly endless trials. As a counselor for 25 years, I have met many persons who felt this way, even some who were suicidal. But as I counseled suicidal people, I learned this:

There is a right way and a wrong way to die!

When people say they want to die, they mean that they want to escape their painful circumstances. They are disappointed that life is not turning out as they had expected. And the greater their expectation, the greater their disappointment. Many have turned away in anger toward God! Who of us has not felt this way?

And it is not just the BIG things in life that cause us to feel this way. Daily we deal with these disappointments. We are angry because the paper was late this morning; the toilet stopped up again; the car needed to go in the shop for the third time this month. And we say, “I would rather die than live like this.” Wait a minute, you say! What’s wrong with wanting these things? My friend, that is the wrong question! The question is not whether it is wrong to want these things. The real question is: what will you do when you don’t get them? What will you do with your disappointment? And your anger?

The irony is that these hard times are meant to show you that there is something you need to die to, or said differently, to let go of. As children of God, we must learn there is a right way to “die” (let go) and a wrong way to “die” (let go).

This is the point of this webiste.

The real death blow is to give up, or die to, stop insisting on your own way, that is, your expectations of how things should be. This is what it means to die to self. Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat…dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears MUCH fruit. Jesus meant that you cannot be alive to this abundant life He offers unless you are willing to die to your own. When you give up your right to be in charge of your own life, that is, be your own god, you allow God to be God. And the life that He will give you is marked by contentment and peace instead of anger and depression.

Jesus suffered and died and then rose up to be seated at the right hand of His father where He lives a glorious eternal life. He extends that life to us right now – in time. It is called Abundant Life. Jesus invited you to have it, but you have to die to experience it. He calls you to deny yourself, to pick up your cross and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you are taking your place with Jesus, to die to your own will.

Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own…” Why should it be any different for you and me?

Dietrich Bonheoffer says “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There can be no full receiving of this “new” life while we are unwilling to let go of the “old.”

Are you hungry for more of God? Are you eager to have the abundant life that Jesus offered? Are you dying to live the abundant life?

Jesus said: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Through pertinent articles written by Dr. Greg Burts and some of his favorite authors and teachers, you may read more about this “dying to live abundant life” truth. And this is why Greg has written his book Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?.

May God bless your journey to Abundant Living! 

 

 

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Dr. Greg Burts is the Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling.

Greg says, the Lord called me to the ministry of biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, he became passionate to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling. Although Dr. Burts holds a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, his therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.

You can learn more about Dr. Greg Burts’ ministry of Biblical counseling and training through his website at www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org.

Dr. Burts is author of two books:

Strategic Biblical Counseling and Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?  

While both of these books present and explain the truths contained on this website, the latter was written specifically to accompany the Dying to Live seminar, taught by him in various locations several times a year.

Dr. Burts’ wife Altha, Founder and Executive Director of Well of Life Ministries, has written a book of her own journey of transformation and healing, called Come Up Higher. She has also written a strategic Bible study called Treasures of Truth, which can be viewed online at www.well-of-life.org, where you can also hear Altha’s testimony and learn more about her ministry.

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The Way of the Cross, by Zac Poonen

Jesus, as our Forerunner (One Who has run the same race ahead of us), has opened a way for us to enter the Father’s presence and dwell there all the time. This way is called “the new and living way” (Heb.10:20).

Paul speaks of it as “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor.4:10). He once said, as his personal testimony, that he was crucified with Christ and lived himself no longer. It was Christ that now lived in him, because he himself had died on Calvary. This was the secret of his amazing life and usefulness to God.

Jesus always walked the way of the cross – the way of death to Self. He NEVER pleased Himself even once (Rom.15:4). To please oneself is the essence of all sin. To deny oneself is the essence of holiness.

Jesus once said that no-one would be able to follow Him, unless he decided to deny himself DAILY and to die to himself DAILY (Lk.9:23). That is clear. It is impossible to follow Jesus if we don’t deny ourselves daily. We may be cleansed in Christ’s blood, have received the Holy Spirit and have a deep knowledge of the Word. But if we don’t die to ourselves daily, we cannot follow the Lord Jesus. That is certain.

Jesus once spoke of those who seek to patch up an old garment with a new patch. This He said would tear the garment. What was needed was to get rid of the old garment and get a brand new one. In another parable, He spoke of making the tree itself good, if we wanted the fruit to be good. It was no use just cutting off the bad fruit.

All these parables have basically one lesson: The old man cannot be improved. He has been crucified by God (Rom.6:6). Now we must agree with God’s judgment on him, and put him off, and put on the new man.

The way of the cross is the way of spiritual progress. If you are not overcoming sins like anger, irritation, impatience, lustful thinking, dishonesty, jealousy, malice, bitterness, and the love of money etc., the answer lies here : You have avoided the way of the cross.

A dead man does not stand up for his rights. He does not fight back. He does not care about his reputation. He will not take revenge. He cannot hate anyone or have a bitterness against anyone.

This is what it means to die to Self.

This way of the cross, like all the other provisions that God has made for our spiritual growth, is also something that we need DAILY, if we are to make spiritual progress.

© Copyright – Zac Poonen

This article has been copyrighted to prevent misuse. It should not be reprinted or translated without written permission from the author. Permission is however given for this article to be downloaded and printed , provided it is for FREE distribution, provided NO ALTERATIONS are made, provided the AUTHOR’S NAME AND ADDRESS are mentioned and provided this COPYRIGHT notice [“Copyright by Zac Poonen”] is included in each printout.

http://www.cfcindia.com/web/mainpages/word_for_the_week.php?display=01_05&year=06

 

ABOUT Dying to live the Abundant Life.
Have you ever wished you could die? Of course, you didn’t really want to kill yourself. You just didn’t want to be here anymore! When life gets painful, who has not wished they could just go somewhere and leave it all behind? In one of his Psalms, David expressed it like this: “O, that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”

Even the great apostle Paul, when imprisoned in Rome, said it would be better to die so he could be with the Lord. And when listing the many trials he had to endure through his life, Paul said he had “despaired of life.”

This “death wish” is a natural human response to seemingly endless trials. As a counselor for 25 years, I have met many persons who felt this way, even some who were suicidal. But as I counseled suicidal people, I learned this:

There is a right way and a wrong way to die!

When people say they want to die, they mean that they want to escape their painful circumstances. They are disappointed that life is not turning out as they had expected. And the greater their expectation, the greater their disappointment. Many have turned away in anger toward God! Who of us has not felt this way?

And it is not just the BIG things in life that cause us to feel this way. Daily we deal with these disappointments. We are angry because the paper was late this morning; the toilet stopped up again; the car needed to go in the shop for the third time this month. And we say, “I would rather die than live like this.” Wait a minute, you say! What’s wrong with wanting these things? My friend, that is the wrong question! The question is not whether it is wrong to want these things. The real question is: what will you do when you don’t get them? What will you do with your disappointment? And your anger?

The irony is that these hard times are meant to show you that there is something you need to die to, or said differently, to let go of. As children of God, we must learn there is a right way to “die” (let go) and a wrong way to “die” (let go).

This is the point of this webiste.

The real death blow is to give up, or die to, stop insisting on your own way, that is, your expectations of how things should be. This is what it means to die to self. Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat…dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears MUCH fruit. Jesus meant that you cannot be alive to this abundant life He offers unless you are willing to die to your own. When you give up your right to be in charge of your own life, that is, be your own god, you allow God to be God. And the life that He will give you is marked by contentment and peace instead of anger and depression.

Jesus suffered and died and then rose up to be seated at the right hand of His father where He lives a glorious eternal life. He extends that life to us right now – in time. It is called Abundant Life. Jesus invited you to have it, but you have to die to experience it. He calls you to deny yourself, to pick up your cross and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you are taking your place with Jesus, to die to your own will.

Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own…” Why should it be any different for you and me?

Dietrich Bonheoffer says “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There can be no full receiving of this “new” life while we are unwilling to let go of the “old.”

Are you hungry for more of God? Are you eager to have the abundant life that Jesus offered? Are you dying to live the abundant life?

Jesus said: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Through pertinent articles written by Dr. Greg Burts and some of his favorite authors and teachers, you may read more about this “dying to live abundant life” truth. And this is why Greg has written his book Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?.

May God bless your journey to Abundant Living! 

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

Dr. Greg Burts is the Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling.

Greg says, the Lord called me to the ministry of biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, he became passionate to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling. Although Dr. Burts holds a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, his therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.

You can learn more about Dr. Greg Burts’ ministry of Biblical counseling and training through his website at www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org.

Dr. Burts is author of two books:

Strategic Biblical Counseling and Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?  

While both of these books present and explain the truths contained on this website, the latter was written specifically to accompany the Dying to Live seminar, taught by him in various locations several times a year.

Dr. Burts’ wife Altha, Founder and Executive Director of Well of Life Ministries, has written a book of her own journey of transformation and healing, called Come Up Higher. She has also written a strategic Bible study called Treasures of Truth, which can be viewed online at www.well-of-life.org, where you can also hear Altha’s testimony and learn more about her ministry.

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Bearing the Cross
By John Woodward
May 17, 1999

The story is told of a child in a church service who was intrigued by the hymn, “Gladly, the Cross I’d Bear”. Some time following church, the little one told his mother that he really liked the song they sang about the bear. “What song did we sing about a BEAR?” she asked. The child responded, “You remember, “Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear”! Hopefully his mom could enlighten him. . .

Perhaps we too feel a little confused about the various facets of the Cross. Andrew Murray noted two fundamental aspects of the Cross. Christ died for us–that is the REDEMPTION of the Cross: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18).

Believers died with Christ–this is the FELLOWSHIP of the Cross: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”(Gal 2:20).

Since our theme this month is “the flesh”, let us study some verses that relate the cross to “the flesh”. Galatians 5:24 states “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” In other words, because the believer is united with Christ, THE AUTHORITY OF THE FLESH HAS BEEN BROKEN! We are free!

Now I think we need to answer two questions arising from Galatians 5:24. First, Does this verse teach that the flesh is no longer present in the believer? No; the context indicates that the believer needs to “walk in the Spirit” to avoid the “works of the flesh” (v.13,16,17-see previous issue). [However, the “old man” (our unregenerate human spirit) WAS crucified with Christ and IS NO LONGER IN THE PICTURE because it was replaced with “the new man” (the regenerate human spirit) — Rom 6:6, Col 3:9,10, 2 Cor 5:17] .

Second, Does Galatians 5:24 teach that the believer somehow directly crucified his flesh? I propose that this crucifixion of the flesh is a consequence of our union with Christ at salvation. Our part was to repent and believe; God’s part was to unite us with Christ and BREAK THE AUTHORITY OF SIN in our lives–(John 8:32).

The believer’s indirect “crucifixion of the flesh” is comparable to the indirect use of “save” found in 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul wrote, “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means SAVE some.” Here Paul aims to “save some” through his preaching of the gospel. Would Paul directly save them? No; God would save them THROUGH Paul’s witness. Similarly, believers “have crucified the flesh” indirectly as a consequence of being united with Christ: “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor 6:17). So through Christ, THE AUTHORITY OF THE FLESH BEEN NULLIFIED BY GOD!

This truth is also taught in Colossians using the symbolism of circumcision: “And you are complete in Him [Christ], who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Col 2:10-12). Circumcision was the Old Testament sign of the covenant relationship with God. It conveyed the idea of putting off the sin inherited from Adam, and anticipating the promised Seed who would come–Christ (Gal 3:16). Those who are redeemed by Him are spiritually “circumcised”. As the prophet foretold, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33). When we walk in the Spirit we are living in accordance with our “new heart”.

There is another use of “putting to death” of the flesh that needs to be examined. In Romans 8:13 we read, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you PUT TO DEATH the deeds of the body, you will live.” Charles Solomon explains, “When flesh is in the ascendancy or control we are functionally (though not organically) separated from the Source of Life which results in a STATE of death (Rom 8:6) while having a STANDING of Life (Col 3:4)”. In other words, if the believer “walks according to the flesh” he does not lose his salvation, but he does hinder fellowship with God. (Fleshly thoughts and actions grieve the Holy Spirit–Eph 4:30).This “putting to death” the deeds of the flesh differs from the FACT of our crucifixion with Christ and the blessings that flow from it (as described above). Rather, Paul exhorts us in Romans 8:13 to apply the Cross to the flesh patterns which still exist in the soul.

Our POWER SOURCE for this is the Holy Spirit: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [for holy living] through His Spirit who dwells in you.”(Rom 8:11).

OUR STRATEGY is to set our minds on the truth, on our freedom, on Christ, and on the Spirit’s active ministry in us: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5).

One concluding reference to the cross in the believer’s life is Luke 9:23: “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Here our Savior calls us to say “no” to our will and “yes” to God’s will–no matter how difficult the consequences. The Lord Jesus demonstrated this commitment in His prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36).

Are we gladly willing to bear His Cross? This involves reckoning our true identity and freedom in Christ. Thankfully, we can rely on His Resurrection life in us to live according to God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will. This is the life God calls us to live–a life without regrets.

Our gracious God, we thank you for the freedom from the authority of the flesh that is our birthright in Christ. As we stand in grace, we choose to live by grace. In Christ’s victory we pray, amen.

JBW May 17, ’99 vol 2 # 20

http://www.gracenotebook.com/pub/163

The Thought-terminating Cliché

Clichés are the simplistic, thought-negating, tired, and generally vague notions, ideas, images, and expressions that people use in place of true thought. Dictionaries typically define clichés as trite phrases or expressions, for example:

“You only get out of life what you put into it.”
“There you go!”
“Time takes time.”

What do these clichés really mean? When they are put in equivolent words their inanity emerges. For example:

  • “I’m a work in progress.” = “I’m still not dead.”
  • “Life is a journey.” = “In my life I will go places and do things.”
  • “It is what it is.” = “It exists.”
  • “It will be what it will be.” = In time something will change, or else it won’t.”

In other words these clichés are empty of thought beyond the transparently obvious truth they express. So why are they used so often. Perhaps it is becuase when real thought is desired to truly express the distinct meaning appropriate to a unique situation (a predicament that calls upon some reflection and search for appropriate expression – appropriate to thinker and his/her context) these clichés spring to mind. They come to relieve you of the difficulty of thinking for yourself: they’ll think for you. The more you use them the harder they are to get rid of. Keep in mind that clichés also include the ideas that they express! This is the true danger of using them. By doing so you relinquish your own awareness, feeling, and ideas and surrender yourself to the vagueness of the cliché. Thinking then becomes thought via “clipthoughts”.

Robert Jay Lifton calls this surrender to the cliché “thought-terminating cliché”. When such a cliché is used it does not permit analysis, or discussion. The conversation is over. It is characteristic of totalitarian regimes and totalitarian approaches to relationships. When someone trots out one of the following during the analysis of a complex human problem you know the conversation has ended. These clichés are by nature highly reductive, definitive-sounding, easily memorized, and easily expressed. They are also totally empty in that there is no relationship between the words, their meanings, and the topic or person at hand. Here are some we all have bumped into:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.”
“We will have to agree to disagree.”
“Such is life.”
“We are just different.”

Here Big Frank is making reference to the verbal clues (clichés) to the vacuousness of the thought. There are also visual clues, clipart, for example. Perhaps the key notion here is one of awareness of self and the world coupled with an ability to express one’s individual way of seeing things. It requires effort. Here’s William Stafford’s view on discovering his own way of looking at things, which he characterizes in almost romantic terms as finding his MUSE.

http://bigfrankdickinson.blogspot.com/2008/07/clichs-are-simplistic-thought-negating.html

  

 

 

The Cone of Silence

Controlling churches often have unspoken codes of conduct. In the Word of Faith we had a “code of silence” which was the result of some doctrinal combinations: faith, positive confession and submission to authority. Exercising faith through words is an important component of the WOF. We wanted to plant God’s Word in our hearts and “have what we say.” To stay strong in faith, we avoided talking in a way that could be construed as unbelief or doubt of God’s Word or what we believed His promises were. We did not want to have an attitude of disrespect or harbor grudges against other Christians (a.k.a.”Walk in love”). Not only did we believe it would have an adverse effect on your faith, but also it was implied that it could cause a person to fail in life or even die.

The end result was that there were a whole lot of things that we did not talk about. If you felt sick, you were experiencing “symptoms” (but you were NOT going to admit you were sick). If you were broke you found some way to infer that you were low on cash besides saying “I can’t afford it.”

You can imagine the disaster that awaits someone who needs serious medical treatment that is trying to fight “symptoms”. It was okay to use doctors and medicine, just take your healing confessions with you to read while you are in the waiting room. But what if someone is afraid to go to the doctor? They might put off medical attention with “faith” alone as their excuse only to find themselves in a terrible situation (We didn’t confess fear, by the way). We could also do a separate post on people in desperate financial straits giving money into offerings that can’t afford while making their prosperity confessions. You can see that there could be a variety of unexpected consequences from this faith teaching.

But one truly unexpected consequence (for me, anyway) is the culture that is created in a church where these teachings are the norm: If there is a problem that reflects poorly on the leadership, you can’t talk about it! The way we treated ministers and leaders in our old church seems based on the assumption that leaders do not err. So if there is, for example, a serious question about how church finances are handled, you are not being submissive to God’s appointed leader by bringing it up. Not only are you rebelling if you persist with such questions, you are harming your faith by failing to “walk in love”! This would probably play out differently if there was transparency in the church power structure. However, the pastor is presented as the visionary of the church and the pinnacle of the power structure. If there are moral issues or financial questions, or problems that stem from nepotism, you are just supposed to tolerate it. You might even find yourself blackballed by the leadership and some congregants for speaking out.

The code of silence is widespread. There are many ministers in the WOF that understand there is a problem but most don’t “rock the boat”. I understand now why the prophets and Jesus himself had to continually confront the error of the religious establishment.

Looking back, it was really more like the cone of silence for the program Get Smart. We were in our little cones of silence as if we were in our own worlds…with Charles Capps minibooks in our pockets.

 
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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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.

——————————————————————————–

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 .

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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.

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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

more about “Testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

—————————————————————————————————-

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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Televangelists Partly To Blame For Economic Woes
December 6, 2008 by C. KingHisglory

September 24, 2008
Andrew Strom: The Depression Has Begun
From: Revival School

The DEPRESSION HAS BEGUN

Ten months ago in November 2007 while preaching in Wisconsin USA, I felt a strong unction from the Holy Spirit to speak about the future of the United States and the imminent Crash. As often happens under that kind of anointing, a real boldness came over me, and for the first time I found myself clearly putting a “date” on the coming financial Depression – something I had never done before – except in the vaguest of terms. I found myself predicting that tragically within six months America would be in Recession, and within 12 months the actual Depression would begin.
(-This audio is on our website – http://www.revivalschool.com )

So let us look at the evidence. It is now ten months later. Has the Depression begun? Sadly the answer has to be “Yes”. In the last
two weeks the two largest mortgage giants in the world (Fannie
Mae & Freddie Mac) failed, the largest Insurance Company on earth
crashed (all taken over by the US Government), Lehman Brothers
went bankrupt (almost taking the entire financial system with it),
Money Markets reeled, the two remaining giant Investment banks
sought protection as “holding banks” – which means the end of
Wall Street as we know it, etc, etc. Stocks are in turmoil, Oil leapt
on Monday by the most ever recorded, gold is volatile – and on it
goes. -The most shattering two weeks since the Great Depression.
Meanwhile the US Treasury is seeking 700 billion dollars in a
forlorn effort to put Humpty back together again – tragically too late.

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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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THERE ARE “JONAHS” on THE BOAT

Why is this storm hitting America at this time? There are certainly
many reasons – most of which we have discussed before. But let
me put something else before you that I believe God spoke to me
not long ago:- There are “Jonahs” on the boat – and they are
sending the nation down.

Who are these Jonahs? I believe they are the “prophets” of America
who will not preach the truth – who sleep comfortably in the bowels
of the nation while chaos reigns all around them. Too afraid to
deliver God’s word ‘Repent’, they run the other way – toward smooth
talk and pleasant sayings – “Peace peace” when there is no peace.
And the depths of this great crisis can be laid directly at their door.

Yes – that’s right. A big reason why the ship of America is sinking
is because her prophets ran away from their God-given task and
message at the crucial moment.

If only these prophets had preached the TRUTH when the nation
so desperately needed to hear it. If only they had begun – way
back in the 1980’s – to call the lukewarm church to repentance,
to rebuke the people for their love of money, their greed, their sin.
But no – the siren call of “popularity” was too strong. The call of
“grace, grace”, of mass acceptance, of big reputations and even
bigger offerings. And so they sold out. And now they sleep bliss-
fully in the midst of the ship, while the storm whips to fury all
around. How do you sleep, O Jonahs, who would not cry “Repent”?

And it is not just the “prophets” either. It is the televangelists too.
Caught up in a world of fakery, hype and money-grubbing unseen
in the church since the Dark Ages, these hucksters are spreading
their garbage to every Third World Revival nation around the globe.
Greed, manipulation and pride on a scale that only America could
generate. Where is your shame, O charlatans of greed?

And so God is forced to act. And just like Jonah, the storm will
not abate until the wayward preachers are thrown overboard. Until
America is rid of these international thieves and prostitutes, she
is finished. And she will not recover until they are gone.

You see, it is not just the leaders who are at fault here. It is also
the people, who “love to have it so”. And thus until the heart of the
people is scourged and purged they will accomodate the “Jonahs” –
even seeking more of their ear-tickling fables to comfort themselves
in this time of breaking.

Until the heart of American greed is shattereduntil her people
act of their own volition to throw these Jonahs overboard – this
storm will go on and on.
In fact, it is about to grow a whole lot worse.

Mark my words, America: Until you remove these Jonahs, your
nation cannot recover. They have held the whole world in thrall by
their apostasy. And God cannot have it so any more. How long will
it take you to realize? How long will it take you to act?

THROW THE JONAHS OVERBOARD and be done with them!!
Only then will this mother of all storms subside.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  LIVE RADIO JAN 6 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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-Comments welcome. -Send to- prophetic@revivalschool.com

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL to OTHERS

God bless you all,

Andrew Strom.

YES! – You have permission to post these emails
to friends or other groups, blogs, boards, etc. Go for it!

To subscribe, please send a ’subscribe’ email to-
prophetic@revivalschool.com

http://hermansmith.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/televangelists-partly-to-blame-for-economic-woes/

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The Caste System

http://theautonomyofthebeliever.blogspot.com/

When I first became acquainted with the Word of Faith movement in the 1990s, the ministers were being called ‘Faith preachers.’ It was during the 10 years that we attended our Faith church that the ministers were being called ‘Prosperity preachers’ more and more frequently.

Our pastor fancied himself quite the prosperity preacher, too. He would tell stories from the pulpit of how well his prosperity messages were received at headquarters and his various speaking engagements. At this period of time in the late 90’s, church services might culminate with a preacher’s coat pockets literally being stuffed with money as the congregation spontaneously brought checks and cash to their feet en masse.

At the time I had no qualms about such behaviour. As a preacher’s kid myself, I had seen family members treated poorly and taken advantage of. I knew some preachers who had sacrificed a lot and needed to have their coat pockets stuffed with money (still do).

In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine that putting so much emphasis on money could ever have a positive outcome. It’s almost funny the logic at work in our church: you have faith, you exercise your faith through words…confess what you want and you’ll have it. What you do? Confess and believe yourself into a better financial position!

Then we make another assumption, that the people in our church who have more money got it by applying their faith (not by hard work, talent and life circumstances all possibly combined). So who are the most spiritual people in church? People who have money. And as your ministry grows, who becomes your high-value segment of the congregation? People with money.

Now no one in our church believed that money was a sign of spirituality. The pastor even decried such thinking from the pulpit. But in practice there was a caste system in place that became more obvious as our church grew out of it’s old facilities into a shiny new building and campus. It was also obvious in the behavior of some (though not all) of the more exalted members of the congregation. At the top of the pyramid was the pastor and his family, then the people with money. The third group was those who worked the volunteer positions. At the bottom were the people who were poor or disadvantaged. Sounds mixed up? It is. If you were on the lower levels of the caste system, you were bound to feel inferior.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes? 

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For years we could not believe that the caste system we saw in action was real. After all, we were hearing exciting things about faith, about the power of God, about the place God had for all of us at this church. Our pastor seemed to possess wisdom beyond his years. We thought maybe we are the ones who didn’t get it. So we ignored a lot of things and carried the water for our church in order to be spiritually mature.

Eventually the love of money was one of the 2 things that was our old church’s undoing (more on that later). What kind of Christian place of worship would encourage such thinking? I stopped inviting people to our church because of the treatment they would would likely receive. What kind of Christian leadership would exploit such a system for their own gain? My experience has been that the prosperity message breeds an attitude of inequality amongst congregants that only benefits those who promote this message.

http://theautonomyofthebeliever.blogspot.com/2009/01/caste-system.html

 

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes? http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200901/1231101182.html

Headline: The How2BecomeAChristian.Info RADIO SHOW with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: YES affirmation to Title Questions. Jan.6 10pm Central http://blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian.

economic

United States of America (Press Release) January 4, 2009 — As one witchcraft site says,,, “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

The same Witchcraft website says,,,, “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.”

Featuring Special Guest, Kenneth Hagin Student, Rhema Bible Training Center Graduate AND Ex-Word of Faith Preacher, John Edwards from faithpreacher.blogspot.com

Subtopics: 1. COULD IT BE THAT?, Americans and the World are now paying the consequences of a false “prosperity gospel“, through economic crises and outrageous personal debt? What will be the end result? 2. Honest, sincere people read and seek the truth. Scared people hide from truth?

This Press release can also be distributed with this URL link: http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/2009/01/05/special-topic-press-and-listener-release-the-how2becomea-christianinfo-radio-show-with-damon-whitsell-and-a-very-special-guest-topics-1-have-american-christians-accepted-a-false-gospel-that-is-r/

In PART ONE of the series, John and Damon will examine the biblical warnings to beware of false teachers/prophets and BE NOT deceived, because one day God will send a delusion into the world, upon those who love not His truth. They will be delving into the History and Occultic/New Age/Luciferian roots of the Word of Faith Movement. And will be discussing Cult Psychology (why people fall for cults and cultic teachings, including mind control techniques). Do your ears itch?
John Edwards and Damon Whitsell will return on air Tuesday January 13 the following week to cover the assertion made in the Title that the prosperity gospel is to partly to blame for our economic crisis. MORE INFO @ http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/ AND http://how2becomeachristian.info/

http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200901/1231101182.html

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Special Topic Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Headline: The How2BecomeAChristian.Info Radio show with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: Topics; 1. Have American Christians accepted a false gospel (that is really occultic witchcraft) because they have itching ears for what they want to hear and not a love for God’s Truth? Are some “Christians” practicing Witches, Unaware? 2. Have ”Word of Faith Preachers” and “Word of Faith Believers” contributed to American National Debt and financial woes?

Subtopics: 1. COULD IT BE THAT?, Americans and the World are now paying the consequences of a false “prosperity gospel“, through economic crises and outrageous personal debt? What will be the end result? 2. Honest, sincere people read and seek the truth. Scared people hide from truth?

Biblical Truth and Your Thoughts Aired on the Social Radio Network BlogTalkRadio

Featuring Special Guest, Kenneth Hagin Student, Rhema Bible Training Center Graduate AND Ex-Word of Faith Preacher, John Edwards from faithpreacher.blogspot.com

==============================================================

This segment episode of The How2BecomeAChristian.Info Radio show with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: “Have American Christians accepted a false gospel (that is really occultic witchcraft) because they have itching ears for what they want to hear and not a love for God’s Truth?”,, will air on January 6, 2009 at 10 p.m. Central Time. It will be informative, exciting, socially and personally challenging to Christians and non Christians alike..

The show will feature both Show Host Damon Whitsell and Special Guest Ex-Word of Faith Preacher; John Edwards, YES AFFIRMATION,, to the title and subtitle questions.

They will offer an examination of what the Bible and Jesus have to say about false teachers and guarding against deception in the last days. A historical and theological critique of the WoF movement that has been all the rage in “big Christianity” and most Charismatic Circles. They will compare the “Word of Faith” teaching that faith and words are a “creative force“, with the exact same occult teaching that has always been the corner stone of witchcraft and the occult.

As one witchcraft site says,,, “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

The same Witchcraft website says,,,, “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.”
==============================================================

In PART ONE of the series, John and Damon will examine the biblical warnings to beware of false teachers/prophets and BE NOT deceived, because one day God will send a delusion into the world, upon those who love not His truth. They will be delving into the History and Occultic/New Age/Luciferian roots of the Word of Faith Movement. And will be discussing Cult Psychology (why people fall for cults and cultic teachings, including mind control techniques). Do your ears itch?

John Edwards and Damon Whitsell will return on air Tuesaday January 13 at 10pm Central Time (same bat time, and channel) the following week to cover the assertion made in the Title and Subtitle, that our current economic crises can be proven to be, at least indirectly, related to the Word of Faith Movement and it’s false “Prosperity Gospel” of greed and self centeredness. And the Word of Faith movements veritable catch 22/Double bind of, “Prove your faith by breaking out your credit card and check book, for God (or at least the “Man of God’ on T.V.)“. You will get 100 or 1000 times a return on your money (that you send to them) GO AHEAD!!! You deserve it!!! (Rev. 3: 13 & 19)

Read this for your own good. The Evil of Usury ß link The TV Word of Faith Ministers are not the only ones USING YOU and Us.

“Who goeth a borrowing goeth a sorrowing” — Benjamin Franklin.

If your not aware that the OCCULT is real and has an agenda, maybe you should check out the other H2bac.Info (with a numeral 2) ministry sites. http://occultworldexposure.wordpress.com/  AND http://www.freewebs.com/occultworldexposuregat/  Also look for a corresponding Radio Show by Damon Whitsell to start in February or March on BlogTalkRadio. Visit DeceptionInTheChurch.com

In PART TWO of the series, John and Damon will also play and critique audio clips from prominent Word of Faith Teachers false, heretical, aberrant and damnable teachings. And Damon has some tough Questions for John as he will play devils advocate with John to wrap up the second show. Both Damon and John have been strongly affected by the Word of Faith movement and have much to say on the subject.

Damon’s take on the Word of Faith Movement is: “Because my uncle is a Mormon bishop, I have studied the occult extensively. All secret occult groups have one thing in common, freemasonry as a recruiting ground. AND as several prominent freemason writers have claimed, the Cabbala is the source of freemasonry and all of the ancient mystery religions.

It just blows me away, and testifies to the veracity of the bible and its end time apostasy claims, in that so many today would agree with Satan (believe lies taught by demons) in saying Genesis 3:22 (And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever) is their favorite bible verses.

I know not many say it is their favorite verse, but the Word of Faith movement (WoF) stuff falls apart without it, Gen3:22 is what it is built on.Gen3:22 is known as the occult secret doctrine. BUT in occult circles, this so called occult truth, is only for the adept, initiated and illuminated. Freemasonry and other occult traditions practice secrets within secrets and secret groups within secret groups. These groups are split between the adept and the un-adept. SO your average WoF believer is more adept to occult teachings than most freemasons and members of other occult groups.

The WoFM transformed the Latter Rain Movement into the Manifest Sons of God Movement. AND it saddens me that the biggest outlet for occultic teachings, is now the Christian Church. I see it in the bible and I see it in occult writings. Almost every big name writer in the occult has written about how they intend on invading the Christian church and change it from inside out. Christianity will be the end time one world religion. Not the faith once delivered though. They say Christianity is to be invaded and turned into the religion of apotheosis (men become gods) or Luciferianism. AND it has happened,,,, and the ground work for the abomination of desolation is set. People that call themselves Christians (occultist have always claimed to be the true Christians because they claim to be little gods or little Christ) will soon chose to openly worship Lucifer over God,, saying as occultist do,,,,, ‘the great rebel Lucifer blazed the path to Godhood for us all‘, and they will worship him for it. The WoF crowd will be the easiest to deceive. Because they already are! Maybe more than the Mormons and more obvious occult groups.”
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Spiritual Abuse Survey: Is YOUR church a safe place?

Take the survey from wickedshepherds.com and see!

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Here is a questionnaire to determine just how healthy your church really is. To find out how well it ranks, answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

•Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks?

•Does the head of your church, along with the other “leaders”, use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers?

•Does the head of your church and his “fellow elders” appear to be intolerant or consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned?

•Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are “evil” or “defiling”; a “danger to your spiritual welfare”?

•Is leaving your church to join another church that “is not approved by the elders” equal to leaving God?

•Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion?

•At church, is there a sense of control, rather than support?

•Is there a relentless obsession of reminding the sheep of “who’s in authority”?

•Are you told not to ask questions as to why others have left? Are you told to accept the statements that the “elders” give you?

•Are books, tapes and CD’s, speakers, music, etc., carefully controlled to keep only the belief structure of your church before your mind?

•Is there is a relentless campaign to keep you around the activities of your church, expecting you to be at all the stated meetings, except if providentially hindered? And if you are absent, is your spirituality and dedication sometimes questioned?

•Is the concept ever so subtly present that, “when you please the “pastor”, God is pleased and when your “pastor” is not pleased with you, God is not pleased with you?

•Is there present, the breaking of even the closest family ties, to “guard” the flock?

•Is there the constant using of guilt and shame as tools of control?

•Is there present at your church the encouragement of the members to spy and report on each other, lest sin be found in the midst?

•Is there present at your church the dominant climate of fear in the group – fear of failing to keep one of the rules, and fear of being held up to public humiliation and rejection?

•At church, are the normal lines between what is private and what is public knowledge broken, and members confess the most personal, and the most minor sins, as the conscience is being surrendered to the “leadership”?

•Are many (if not all) of the results from voting at “congregational business meetings” announced as….. “it is unanimous!”?

•Is questioning condemned as “whispering, back- biting, vicious slander, gossip, nit picking, signs of a proud rebellious spirit, being disaffected and divisive?

•Are those who dissent publicly punished? Are their reputations murdered by veiled, or not so veiled “revelations” of “sins”; past and present, as confidentiality is broken for the benefit of the leaders?

•Is there a misplaced loyalty from Jesus and God onto the leadership, which is idolatry?

•Is there harsh preaching and full of condemnation for your failures and are you deliberately being kept wounded and off balance by the haranguing and condemnation from the pulpit?

•Is “Persevere or be damned” and “listen to YOUR elders; obey YOUR elders”; “submit to YOUR elders” preached over and over again?

•Is paranoia the “very air you breathe”? Paranoia of falling from grace; thinking for yourselves; breaking the many unspoken rules as well as the clearly spelled out expectations of the leader?

•Are you becoming paranoid – carefully watching your every word and even gesture, lest someone report your faults?

•Does a code of silence reign at your church? Is no one to divulge the business of the church, or the faults of the leadership?

•Do the spiritual leaders at your church seem to give you the impression that either covertly or overtly, they have the right to tell you how you should manage your own family; presuming that they know your own family better than you know yourself?

RESULTS

If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, your church is relatively healthy. If you answered “yes” to a quarter or more, your church is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to half or more, your church is very, very unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to three-quarters or more, your church is an authoritarian cult. 

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Title: CHARISMATIC DELUSION: KENNETH HAGIN AND THE “SPIRIT OF THE SERPENT” — w/Video

Subtitle: Hagin is shown as not being able to discern between the ‘paranormal’ and the ‘supernatural’, between that which is from Satan and that which is from God. The entire ‘Word of Faith’ movement fails to properly discern the difference; thus, as the world moves closer to the ultimate deception of the Antichrist, this movement has become more deluded than ever and more of a participant in Satan’s ‘paranormal’ activity, all the while thinking they are serving Jesus. From Paw Creek Ministries, video tape, Pastor Joe Chambers narrating.

Kenneth Hagin began to wander off the Biblical “Narrow Path” early in his ministry — 1938 to be exact! In December, Hagin tells of a young girl about 16 years of age that went into a trance and remained over eight hours in a frozen position. The pastor of the church where Hagin was preaching this revival weighted over 200 pounds and the two of them tried to pick this young lady up; they wanted to move her near the single stove heating the building. Hagin said that this poor girl was “glued to the floor ” so that these two strong men could not budge her. He called this manifestation the Power of God, but the truth is that this incident was absolutely the result of the “paranormal” activities of demons.

Paranormal Versus Supernatural

To understand what appears to be the root, the foundation of Kenneth Hagin’s departure from Biblical truth. We must start with these two concepts: paranormal and supernatural. The entire “Word of Faith” movement, as it is called, fails to discern the difference, and from this failure, their doctrines have systematically moved in a downward spiral, away from the true God of the Bible and toward the Abyss of the Pit. The “spirit of the serpent” has gradually manipulated this crowd of otherwise sincere individuals until now the serpent can manifest himself in their midst while they appear oblivious to his presence; but, worse, the power of the serpent is manifesting himself in their midst, while they believe they are following and serving Jesus Christ! This great deception is the deception of Antichrist and it is running rampant in these type of churches.

Paranormal activity operates in an in-between world of the natural and the supernatural. This activity is above the natural world but below God’s supernatural dimension. The Bible has many examples of Satan and his fallen helpers appearing and performing their activities. The word paranormal means, “Not within the range of normal experience or scientifically explainable phenomena.” {Tormont Webster’s Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary].

Satan can appear before God to push his cause and defend his legal standing (Job 2:3-7) that Adam and Eve surrendered to him in their act of disobedience. Satan’s temptation of Jesus was loaded with paranormal activity. No natural powers could have accomplished such feats as taking Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple, or showing Him all the nations of the world (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan and his ministers can transform themselves as angels of light and ministers of righteousness for the express purpose of deceiving the undiscerning!

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness…” (2 Cor 11:13-15)

When you understand the difference between the paranormal and the supernatural, you can very easily discern between a false prophet and a man of God. Jesus healed a woman who had been bound with paranormal powers for eighteen long years. She was bowed over into a state of crippled existence by severe demonic power.

“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity … ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? ” (Luke 13:10-12)

Did you understand who had held this woman in physical bondage for 18 years? Satan had demonically forced this woman into this physical infirmity through the outworking of his paranormal power. The early church understood the principles of Satan’s power opposite the powers of God. If Satan is supernatural, then the contest between he and God would be on an equal footing, which is the belief of occultists throughout the world even today. Thankfully, this has never been the case, and Holy Scripture is filled with Biblical certainty, that God is infinitely greater and more powerful than Satan.

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18)

The supernatural power of God is never manifested to titillate the flesh or to win favor for God’s ministers. One has only to study the life of Jesus and the history of the New Testament church to confirm the absolute absence of paranormal activity by the Holy Spirit! You will never see in the Bible a young girl “glued to the floor” so tightly no two men could budge her. You will also never see people slithering to the floor as serpents, apparently losing total control of their bodies, nor will you see the minister “hissing” like a snake and the audience “hissing” back! Not one time does the Bible record the early Church as displaying such strange happenings that would satisfy the appetite of curiosity seekers. In fact, Jesus said:

“And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:29-30)

Supernatural powers are exactly what the word suggests. While the word, supernatural, does not appear in the Bible, the closest equivalent may to be “eternal”. God takes “eternal” actions and his existence in the eternal dimension definitely qualify as supernatural. Satan, by his very nature, cannot operate in the eternal realm, and so his actions are termed paranormal. ALL God’s acts are eternal acts. To even imagine God doing things of a paranormal nature is to completely miss His holy nature and His eternal characteristics.

Colossians 1:19 may also contain all the elements of “supernatural”. Let us review this Scripture:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” [ Col 1:19-20]

The key word in this passage is “fulness”, which in the Greek is “pleroma”, (Strong’s # 4138). This Greek word means to completely fill up, to fill. For example, “fulness of time” denotes the completion of a particular period of time before ordained and appointed”; this term also “denotes a fullness of the Godhead in Christ, as it was constituted, God was in His fullness …” [“Key Word Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, p. 1749].

This word, “pleroma” denotes a dimension of being that only God can fulfill. Thus, this may come as close to “supernatural” as any other word in the Bible. God clearly operates in the “supernatural”, while Satan operates in the lower dimension, “paranormal”.

We see events in the Bible where God did eternal things that men interpreted them to be paranormal matters. The Bible states that God made Ezekiel dumb (Ezekiel 3:26); that an angel made Zechariah dumb when he believed not the angel’s message (Luke 1:20); and that He made Saul of Tarsus blind (Acts 9:8, 18). When we try to interpret these acts of God’s judgment or His method of dealing with an individual into a pattern for New Testament Church life, we create an absolute theological mess. This kind of Biblical interpretation is at the heart of the Kenneth Hagin doctrines. The very idea of using one’s faith to acquire earthly riches is nothing more, nor less, than paranormal manipulation. The following verse describes Kenneth Hagin and all his ilk, as they not only use their dangerous type of “faith” to gain riches, they use the spirit of the serpent to deceive their followers.

“… in their covetousness (lust, greed) they will exploit you with false (cunning) arguments. From of old the sentence of condemnation for them has not been idle; their destruction (eternal misery) has not been asleep.” [2 Peter 2:3; Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary]

Kenneth Hagin And His Doctrines

It appears that Mr. Hagin’s doctrines were developed in his early years and were acquired from a man named E.W. Kenyon. Much of Mr. Hagin’s writing and radio broadcasts are labeled by some excellent scholars as plagiarized materials from Kenyon’s writings. Page after page of the actual writings and materials from Hagin are exact, word for word, from E.W. Kenyon. Mr. Hagin claims God gave these doctrines to him, and they just “happen” to be exactly like Kenyon’s writings. If Mr. Hagin received doctrines from God, that would place him on a level of the men through whom God wrote the Holy Scriptures.

Kenneth Hagin: “Physical Death Wouldn’t Remove Your Sins”

This statement should tell you all you need to know about the error of Kenneth Hagin. On the surface, you might ask why Hagin would even dare to say such a thing! The answer is in his paranormal approach to Christianity. If men are going to have this kind of power in their tongue or words, they have just elevate themselves to be on a level with Jesus Christ. That is impossible, unless you bring Jesus down to a different, a lower, theological position. Kenneth Copeland , one of Hagin’s stars, offers an excellent example of bringing Jesus down to a lower level; he actually states that if the physical death of Jesus could have saved, then any prophet, including himself could have saved the human race. Notice that Copeland just elevated himself to the level of “religious prophet”, at the same time he lowered Jesus.

Remember one of the End Times prophecies concerning Antichrist and his minions? Listen:

“Then he will blaspheme the High God …” [Daniel 7:25; Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary]

Here are Kenneth Hagin’s actual words: “He (Jesus) tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner man went to hell in my place. Can’t you see that? PHYSICAL DEATH WOULDN’T REMOVE YOUR SINS. He’s tasted death for every man, lie’s talking about tasting spiritual death.” – KENNETH HAGIN (Christianity In Crisis. Hank Hanegraaff, p. 60; Emphasis added)

The entire doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ and His eternal Sonship is effectively denounced or rendered valueless by this statement. The Biblical truth is that Jesus Christ was the ‘Passover Lamb,” the very sacrifice that God the Father required and offered to pay the price of sin. His sinless, physical body and blood was the price He and His Father paid to redeem us back to their heart. To deny this is to remove man’s only hope of escape from the horrible penalty of sin. The Bible leaves no possibility of denying His blood sacrifice as a “finished work” necessary to redeem us from our sins and restore us to Right Standing with God the Father.

Read these verses carefully so you will know the Truth and be not deceived by this workers of iniquity!

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, bath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56).

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28).

“Whom God bath set forth [to be] apropitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:25).

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all).” (Hebrews 10:10).

The last verse noted makes it clear that it was His body and the natural blood (sanctified) by the virgin conception that was offered for us. There is no cleansing or salvation in any of the acts of Jesus separated from His blood sacrifice. I believe Kenneth Hagin is a lost man plunging his way toward hell.

Kenneth Hagin: “They Had Jesus Within Their Powers.”

This strange heresy does more than deny the power of Jesus Christ as our substitute sacrifice. Remember it was in His substitute death that He was able to take our judgment upon Himself. Hagin – Copeland says that His spirit went into hell under the powers of Satan and the demon world and by His victory of being “born again,” we are redeemed. This means we are not redeemed on the cross by the shed blood of Calvary in this dimension, but by Jesus descending into Hell under the power of Satan, where He was “born again” during his suffering in Hell. When Jesus’ spirit left His body on Calvary, man was not yet redeemed!

This is a totally unbiblical approach to both man and the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of metaphysical approach to mankind is New Age, New Thought, or whatever name the deceptive world of Satan may be using at a given time. Here are Mr. Hagin’s own words (or Mr. E. W. Kenyon’s):

“Here is a picture of Christ in awful combat with the hosts of darkness. It gives us a glimpse of the tremendous victory lie won before He rose from the dead. The margin of the King James reads, ‘He put off from himself the principalities and the powers.’ It is quite obvious and evident that whole demon host, when they had Jesus within their power, simply intended to swamp Him, to overwhelm Him, and hold Him in fearful bondage.” (Metaphysical Elements In The Faith Movement, Compiled by Leon D. Stump, p. 98-99, taken from “The Word of Faith”, “The Name Of Jesus, ” April, 1976, pp.4-6).

These words are actually plagiarized from a book by K W. Kenyon, “The Wonderful Name Of Jesus”, pages 8-9. Even the reference to the King James margin came from Kenyon. (Notice that Mr. Hagin said that this victory was won before Jesus arose from the dead, not when He bled and died on the cross.)

This theological thinking has Jesus spending three days in bondage to the devil. There are several problems with such an impossible idea. First, Jesus stated the following, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30).

Jesus said this before His death on the cross, clearly expressing the fact that Satan had “nothing in me” or no power over Christ and His death.
Jesus stated on the cross, “It is finished.” He also told the repenting thief, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise’ (Abraham’s Bosom).

The veil of the temple was rent when He Died, not when they say He was born again at the end of three days, or at His resurrection.

Kenneth Hagin: “The Believer Is As Much An Incarnation As Was Jesus Of Nazareth.”

It is impossible to know whether Mr. Hagin is denying the deity of Jesus Christ or proclaiming the deity of all born-again believers — or perhaps, both! This idea of “manifest Sons of God” was part of the Latter Rain Movement in the 40’s and 50’s and has certainly become big again in the present charismatic confusions. Again, this shows the paranormal powers and ideas that undergird Kenneth Hagin’s entire theology and methods. Man is raised to some kind of spiritual creature that can actually evolve into glorified saints/spirits and establish the kingdom of God on earth. This belief brings Hagin into alignment with New Age Movement, who claims that man can evolve into a “god” that can then establish Paradise of Earth! Ken Hagin then may be thought of as a “serpent-led” New Ager!

Here is a further statement of the above words by Mr. Hagin, “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” (Christianity In Crisis, Hank Hanegraaff, p. 175, taken from “The Incarnation”, Kenneth Hagin, p. 12). Mr. Hagin’s use of familiar Scriptural terms and the very Biblical phraseology of these words is planned to cloud the entire picture. If you look carefully you will see that Hagin does not just place us as “Sons of God”, but we are placed on the same level as our Lord Himself! This kind of arrogance about man’s position breeds the very spirit you will see when try to reason with persons caught in this trap.

This is a form of White Magic that has invaded the this church movement!

Kenneth Hagin: “If You Will Lean, To Follow That Inward Witness I Will Make You Rich.”

This statement that Hagin says came from God only serves to strengthen the context of this entire article. He is talking about a kind of human that the Bible knows nothing about, a paranormal human. Look at the broader picture in his statements.

“Then the Lord said this to me in a vision in 1959, which is not just for my benefit, but for yours. ‘If you will learn to follow that inward witness I will make you rich. I will guide you in all the affairs of life, financial as well as spiritual’ . I have followed that inward witness and He has done just what He said He would. He has made me rich (p.33)… The inward man, who is a spirit man, has a voice – Just as the outward man has a voice. We call this voice ‘conscience’. We call this voice the still small voice. Your spirit has a voice. Your spirit will speak to you (p.47). .. Your conscience is the voice of your spirit (p. 49).” (“Metaphysical Elements In The Faith Movement”, Compiled by Leon D. Stump p.55, taken from “How To Be Led By The Holy Spirit”, Kenneth Hagin.)

Hagin also stated, “The Lord said, ‘I’ll have to correct your theology a little’ (I’d been indoctrinated with all that ‘religious’ thinking, and unconsciously I still thought that maybe it was wrong to have the things of this world.) ‘In the first place-and this will help you-don’t pray about money anymore; that is, the way you’ve been praying. Claim whatever you need ” (“Metaphysical Elements In The Faith Movement”, Compiled by Leon D. Stump, p.55. taken from “The Word of Faith Magazine”, ‘How God Taught Me About Prosperity’, Kenneth Hagin

I have heard and read a lot of efforts to show how unbiblical this idea is, but Kenneth Hagin is nothing more, nor less, than a guru of a metaphysical, paranormal cult and his ideas are similar to other New Age proponents. It is basically a religion of White Magic that is directed by demons. It is not even similar to Christianity, except in a vague way. This crowd uses a host of Scriptures taken out of their context to weave a tapestry of deceit.
The true child of God will enjoy many wonderful blessings as they faithfully follow the truth of Scripture. Every promise of God is yea and amen. The Psalmist wrote as moved by the Holy Ghost, “But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD ; and in his law doth he meditate day and night And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:2-3).

Kenneth Hagin And The Spirit Of The Serpent

The final chapter of Mr. Hagin is being written even as I write this article. This video — Kenneth Hagin And The Spirit Of The Serpent — tells the whole truth. The serpent spirit has grown in his teaching and methods until I believe this real occult source is being made manifest. Kenneth Hagin has just conducted a “Holy Ghost” meeting in Chesterfield, Missouri. The meeting was held from October 12th to October 24th, 1999. On the third night he began to manifest this serpent spirit with his tongue sticking out and writhing in and out just like a serpent’s tongue. He also began to hiss. On Thursday night, as he began to hiss, many of the people began to slither down out of their seats feet first. Some of the people would hiss back at him. The emotional response of the audience is indescribable.

When Ken Hagin began to hiss like a serpent, demons began to pour out of him, as he was their channel; he was literally offering his body as a channel between the paranormal realm and this physical realm. By “hissing”, Hagin was allowing demons to pour out of his mouth, into the audience, “demonizing” each member of the audience. Remember, each member at this meeting had already “given permission” to the demons to pour into them. This spiritual reality is the reason so many people began to slither out of their seats, flowing on to the floor like serpents, and totally losing normal control of their body and mind.

Kenneth Hagin and many of the people then became insanely ” spiritually drunk.”

On the last night of the meeting, the demonstration became extremely bizarre as he began to “bless” the people for the closing. Three men could not hold him up because of his spiritually drunken state. Hagin became incredibly heavy, a most definite sign of demon possession.

Hagin declared that this was the first filling demonstration of this new spiritual anointing he said God had promised. Kenneth Copeland was present and got right in the middle of this final insanity. You will see his eyes suddenly rolling up into the top of their sockets revealing the whites of his eyes, a definitive sign of demon possession.

This entire meeting reflected the judgment of God on this ministry and its supporters.

It is apparent that God the Father is ready to judge this entire deception and the whole crowd that has given glory to such heresy. He calls those caught in its web “mad”. “Babylon [and Mystery Babylon] hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine ; therefore the nations are mad.” (Jeremiah 51:7).

The Book of Revelation saw this religious system and called it “Mystery Babylon” [Revelation 17]. This system will certainly be larger than the Kenneth Hagin ministries, but he is clearly a part of it. Revelation warns:

“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when! saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawed was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Revelation 17:6-8).

This beast is the False Anointing by the false spirit masquerading as the Holy Spirit. The Hagin Ministries has destroyed thousands of churches that once were bastions of Biblical truth. Tens of thousands of church members have been spiritually martyred and those who have resisted have been lambasted as inferior or worse. Her judgment is coming. But, Antichrist must needs come first!

The Spirit of the Serpent has lifted his head. Pray for those caught in this web that as many as have not blasphemed the Holy Ghost may be reproved and delivered. This spiritual occult outpouring within apostate christian churches is one more huge sign of the End of the Antichrist. Remember, Antichrist can only arise as the apostasy of the church grows to its “fulness”.

http://www.cuttingedge.org/News/n1823.html

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“Word of Faith” is a world wide movement, which has its point of departure in the Christian Church. Word of Faith is also known under the names “Prosperity Gospel”, “The Faith Movement”, and “Faith Preaching.”

The American preacher Kenneth E. Hagin (1917-2003) is normally considered the founder and leader of the Word of Faith movement. Since the early 1970s Kenneth Hagin Ministries have run the “RHEMA Bible Training Center”, which is a large teaching institution or “Bible School” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. Through the periodical “The Word of Faith” and other intense publication activities the organization has spread Hagin’s message. Other well-known preachers of the movement are Kenneth Copeland, Jim Kaseman and John Brandström.

Word of Life Since 1983, Ulf Ekman from Uppsala in Sweden has been the leader of the foundation called “Livets Ord” (The Word of Life). He is the main leader of Prosperity Theology in Scandinavia. In 1981-82, Ulf Ekman studied at Hagin’s Bible School in the U.S.A. A high level of correspondence has been taking place between the American and the Scandinavian branch of Scandinavian branch of Prosperity Theology.

The foundation “the Word of Life” is a private charity which legally owns everything belonging to “the Word of Life”. A number of activities are involved in the foundation: a congregation, a Bible school, a high school, a kindergarten, and a publishing house. Ulf Ekman is the director of the Bible school, headmaster of Livets Ords Kristna Skola (Word of Life’s Christian School), director of the publishing house “The Word of Life”, editor in charge of The Word of Life’s magazines “The magazine for a victorious life” and “The Word of Life”, and the leader of the private high school, which was started in August 1990.

At present (1992), the movement is very successful in Sweden. The news magazine “The Word of Life” is distributed to 35,000 subscribers, and the movement has somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 independent offshoots all over Sweden.

In Denmark, the movement is known as “North Jutland Bible Center” in Hjorring, “Rhema Bible Center” in Horsens, and “Copenhagen Bible Training Center”. Jens Garnfeldt, the minister, is in charge of the latter. There are also small groups in Denmark with names such as “The Tree of Life”, “The Gospel Center” etc. who are connected with Prosperity Theology.

Spirit, Soul, and Body Prosperity Theology constitutes a continuous, rather consistent system. A person is defined as a “spirit that has a soul and lives in a body.” We are dealing with a sharp distinction between body and soul on one side and man’s spirit on the other side. The spirit carries the identity of a person.

The Bible describes man in various ways, but there is a common ring to the different descriptions. The Judeo-Christian view of humanity does not contain this value-laden distinction found in the theology of The Word of Life. The Christian belief in creation underlines that man is above all an integral unity, which can be viewed from various points of view: body, soul, spirit, mind, thought, heart, etc. Thus, the body is not inferior to the soul.

The Nature of Satan According to Prosperity Theology, non-Christian man has the nature of Satan, but by “conversion” he acquires the nature of God in his own spirit. Consequently, the spirit of man becomes perfect and free of sin. There is, therefore, a sharp distinction between the visible, physical world and the invisible spiritual world. Furthermore, there is a marked tendency to spiritualize a high number of human and earthly phenomena, which in Prosperity Theology are unambiguously interpreted as the results of the working of spiritual forces. In the spiritual world, a number of principles rule, which are important to know and understand.

Conversion and the consequent spiritual gifts enable man to gain influence and power in the spiritual world where the devil and the demons have a large influence.

The Christian does not only have the possibility of, but also the right to progress and prosper in all areas of life. There are, however, certain “blockages” in the spiritual world, which have to be removed first. These blockages come from the Devil and the demons who are the real reason for diseases, poverty and stagnation. Rational explanations for these problems are played down.

Commanding the Demons At the same time, Prosperity Theology insists that Jesus has delegated all his power to Christians. The Christians are obliged to use this authority on all things that seem evil to humanity: disease, poverty, suffering, and misfortune; but also all threats of war and leftist political adversaries. All of these problems have a spiritual reason, i.e. the work of demons. Even Jesus depends on the Christians making use of the authority he has given them over the demons, for Jesus cannot help any more than he has already done by delegating his authority to those who believe.

Prosperity Theology is the expression of a radical turn to the right, religiously as well as politically. It is Ulf Ekman’s aim to break “the socialist spiritual power which governs, dominates, infiltrates, controls, manipulates, and catches people in Sweden.” Furthermore, Ekman is in favor of a strong military defense and wants officers who – led by the Holy Spirit – become “more militant than ever.”

The Word Has Creative Power The spoken word has creative power and the preachers of the faith movement consequently put a high priority on a proclamation whose aim it is to bind and to loose in the spiritual world. “The law of what one is with one’s mouth,” claims that what is spoken will happen and is bound by your confession. Negative statements such as “I am ill” or “I feel bad” are therefore dangerous to use, because one thereby creates sickness and misery in one’s own life.

You Are Gods A conference at “The Word of Life” in 1986 had the theme “You Are Gods.” Yet later, Ulf Ekman has said that this is not supposed to be understood literally. Many critics, however, are of the opinion that this teaching is an inevitable corollary of the prosperity theology’s notion that man changes his nature entirely in conversion, i.e. from that of Satan to that of God.

Jesus Died Spiritually In his book, A Different Gospel, the author, Dan McConnell, has demonstrated that Kenneth Hagin to a large extent has been inspired by the American preacher Kenyon (1867-1948). Hagin has inserted long quotations of Kenyon in his own books without indicating that they are quotations. Books by Kenyon have also been in use in “The Word of Life.”

At the turn of the century, Kenyon was inspired by the so-called New Thought movement in Boston. New Thought operates with a sharp distinction between the material and the metaphysical world, considering the latter to be the more important one.

The “JDS” (Jesus Died Spiritually) teaching, shaped by Kenyon, is to the effect that the reconciling work of Jesus only started for real when Jesus died spiritually on the cross and acquired Satan’s nature. Jesus was tortured in Hell by Satan for three days until his resurrection, as a result of which Jesus was “born again” (just like Christians are born again) and received God’s nature.

This is clearly un-biblical, and it is an expression of the sharply dualistic philosophy at the root of Prosperity Theology’s world view. According to this view, only a spiritual suffering – not a physical one – can lead to a spiritual result. We are dealing with an obviously non-Christian way of thinking. The Bible teaches that Christ by his flesh, precisely, abolished the law and the hostility between God and humanity (Ephesians 2:14 ff.) It is also a rejection of the divinity of Christ when the JDS teaching claims that Jesus received a Satanic nature.

God is Bound Likewise, Prosperity Theology’s concept of prayer is a problematic one. God is bound by spiritual regulations which it is up to us to understand and exploit. Not much room is left for God’s sovereignty, i.e. God’s power to do anything he wants to do. The right use of the spoken word takes precedence over prayer in confidence to God as the Father in whom one can always confide. In the genuine Christian faith the unshakable relationship to God as Father is a gift in baptism. This is a cornerstone. And in this everybody who believes in Jesus Christ can find rest.

Spiritual Warfare The idea of “spiritual authority” is a key concept in Prosperity Theology. Humans are spiritual beings. The Christians, therefore, are able to enter the same world from which the demons operate, and wage war against Satan’s army of spirits. Thereby one is able to break the evil spirits’ power over a person, over a geographical area or over a more abstract phenomenon (e.g. heavy taxation).

A special kind of spiritual warfare is the so-called “pain of birth prayer.” It implies totally uninhibited screaming by the praying person. To Ulf Ekman this kind of prayer is more important that speaking in tongues: “That is when the Holy Spirit encumbers upon men something that is experienced as physical pain; as when a woman gives birth. When the Lord leads us into this we think that we have lost our sense.

“We are rolling about on the floor, screaming in anxiety, squealing like a pig being slaughtered. This is an immensely strong intercession, and the devil detests it. He shouts to us that we are crazy and fanatics.”

Occultism/Gnosticism In Prosperity Theology, humans are positioned in the center of the spiritual universe. Consequently, prayer acquires the character of human manipulation of the spiritual world, with the intention of producing results in the physical world. Consequently, several critics insist that Prosperity Theology’s understanding of prayer features occult elements. Occult means hidden. People engaged in occultism endeavor to release the hidden forces by means of techniques and insight in clandestine regularities. This approach is similar to gnosticism which sees the spiritual as superior and the crucial element, whereas the physical is inferior.

Revealed knowledge is a message from God’s Spirit directly into our spirit. This knowledge reveals e.g. how a given scripture text must by understood, and it is maintained those outside Prosperity Theology do not have revealed knowledge.

Counseling and Former Members The structure of leadership in the Word of Life is hierarchical, and criticism is suppressed to a large extent. If a member seriously wants to criticize the movement, he receives a ready teaching of Prosperity Theology: serious criticism comes from “the Spirit of Criticism,” also referred to as “Jezebel’s Spirit,” which is demonic.

Many former members are subject to depression. They are also suicidal and are hospitalized in psychiatric institutions to a greater degree than the average. There is substantial evidence of suicide among members of the Word of Life with no previous psychiatric record.

Many of those who want to defend Prosperity Theology claim that these problems do not prove anything. But a number of people in Uppsala, who have had the closest encounters with the problems, have no doubt as to the seriousness, depth, and extent of the problems. Furthermore, the pattern of problems is to a high degree identical among the former members.

One reason for such serious mental stress is over-emphasis on confession. You must not confess negative areas, because that would bring negativity on yourself. If someone has prayed for your healing and you have not become well, you must confess that you are now well. You must assume authority over sin, defeat, and weakness, not confess them.

In this way the individual is positioned in a struggle between himself and his thoughts, without any possibility of letting others help him. The control over thoughts, feelings and body is the road to perfection, but of course there are many people who are unable to cope with this isolation and this pressure.

Many critics think that Prosperity Theology is a doctrine for the strong. It requires an almost superhuman effort to have to go on struggling with your thoughts and to maintain them. Add to this the fact that if things go wrong, the individual only has himself to blame, God on His side already having done everything.

One critic put it this way: “In this theology of success, the external physical world is not the real reality and the spiritual world is filled with evil spirits, with whom God has left His children alone. Every time you feel overpowered by a problem: disease, fatigue, depression, accidents or something else, it is an assault from the spiritual world and then you have to gather all your spiritual power and all your determination in an aggressive counterattack. However, this is exactly what your are unable to do – in the long run, at any rate.”

A Christian Church? Theologians disagree as to whether the Prosperity Theology congregations belong within the Christian Church. Many critics point out a number of things in their teaching and practice that position Prosperity Theology in the remote periphery, or even outside what may be called Christianity with any kind of Biblical or historical basis.

Among these things, the idea that the Christian faith guarantees prosperity and progress is the hardest to accept! It is quite simply incompatible with many passages in the New Testament (e.g. Luke 6:20-26; 9:23 ff; 14:26 ff) which express that dimension of the “theology of the cross” without which Christianity becomes superficial and false.

Lastly, it is important to underline that this critic of Prosperity Theology does not disassociate from the people within the movement, but from the doctrinal system with its theological and practical consequences.

http://www.dci.dk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1109:the-word-of-faith-movement&catid=176:laes-om-fremgangsteologi&Itemid=61

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I made up some sound clips and stuff to finish off the first John Edwards show, BUT John and I recorded a 30 minute talk we had and I attached it to the show I already had.

John invited me to ask any and all questions,,, and even to play devils advocate. So I will soon have a second show with John that will be and even better interview than this first one.

You can listen to the interview @ http://www.soundclick.com/how2becomeachristian OR download the interview @ http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=862125

Pastor John will come on the How2BecomeAChristian.Info RADIO show January 6 @ 7pm central,,, live on BlogTalkRadio.com @ http://www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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 Coming to THIS BLOG and Listen to How2BecomeAChristian,Info RADIO on BlogTalkRadio starting Jan. 6 @ 7pmTuesday nights @ 7pm Central

STARTING JANUARY 6

Giving and the 100-Fold Return?!?!


One of the most depressing parts of the Word of Faith movement is its inevitable emphasis on money and its being given by the faithful. Of course, the beneficiaries of this doctrine are not the poor saps writing the checks of providing credit card numbers to WOF ministries–it is the ministries themselves that benefit. If you doubt this, just look at the incomes and extravagence of Joyce Meyers, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson and any number of lesser luminaries in this movement.

WOF is truly an Americanized version of Christianity. According to the captialistic system, and indeed the American preoccupation with all things financial, success is measured according to how much a person has in their savings or checking accounts, their retirement funds, the size of their homes, and the type of cars that they drive. WOF buys directly into all of this. “God wants you wealthy!” is the mantra stated by any number of these ministries. If you are not wealthy, the believer is often told, it is the person’s own fault for lack of faith. The same dynamic is found when when seeks healing, too: if you are not healed, it is because of secret sin, unrepented lifestyles, or a simple lack of faith.

Ask yourself this: If God truly works according to a 30 fold, 60 fold, or 100 fold return on gifts given to Him, why don’t these same ministries simply give away all of their assets in order to get 100 times that back? I mean, if this pyramid-scheme of a doctrine is true, and those gaining all of those contributions are honest, they would never again have to ask for money if they simply followed their own teachings. Jesse DuPlantis wouldn’t have to whine about not having the two jet aircraft he wants; hell, he needs to just give away the airplanes he DOES have (or some other asset), and Bingo! Jesse would not have to plague the rest of us with his pleas. This holds true for the rest of these shell-game thieves, too, for they are the ones who benefit, not those from whom money is extorted.

Although I posted this elsewhere, consider this simple mathematical formula when considering the whole “100-fold return” that is being taught:

Let’s say that on Day 1 you feel genuinely moved of God to give $100. According to the formula, God will return to you $10,000.

Let’s then say that on Day 2, again with full faith, you give the entire $10,000 God just blessed you with back to Him (let’s say via Kenneth Copeland). According to the formula, God is required to give back to you the amount of $1 million.

Same thing on Day 3: You give God the $1 million back to a ministry in full agreement spiritually and mentally and God then returns to you the amount of $100 million.

On Day 4, giving God the glory and thanks, you again give God back the $100 million with which He just blessed you. God then has to return to you $10 billion.

The following day, Day 5, you give back to God the $10 billion, rejoicing in the blessings He has shown. God then returns to you $1 trillion.

On Day 6, in obedience to the Most High, you give Him the $1 trillion. God then responds by giving you $100 trillion.

By the end of a single week one person–if this formula nonsense is true–one person, mind you, owns all of the wealth and resources on planet Earth. What about all of the others, then, who are naming and claiming out there? Are they just out of luck?

Truly, WOF teaching is nonsense of the first order–or more directly put, absolute BS–and yet millions world-wide are throwing away money to increase the accounts of the ministries in question, many of those givers on fixed incomes, too.

So again I state what should be obvious: Let these Word of Faith ministries that push this doctrine simply give away all that they have. If they do so, God will multiply back to them 100 fold and these people will never again have to bother begging for funds.

Or could it be that the WOF ministries know it is a sham, and to do so would kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

To this writer at least, it is time for Christ to again clean out the temple of the money-changers, the Name-It-And-Claim-It crowd, and those victimizing the weak and hurting for their own gain. Or at least for Christian believers to open their eyes, quit being suckered, and ask questions.

http://exwofers.blogspot.com/2005/05/giving-and-100-fold-return.html

Coming to THIS BLOG and

//www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

Tuesday nights @ 10pm Central

STARTING JANUARY 6

The How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW will begin to air on BlogTalkRadio on January 6 at 10pm central. The show will be a mix of pre-recorded live shows and live call in shows. The show will feature interviews with well known Theologians and other professionals in various fields of Study. First up will be Ex-Word of Faith Preacher John Edwards from FaithPreacher.blogspot.com AND Christian Ufologist Guy Malone from alienresistance.org The shows will also do other things besides interviews. I will schedule ONE SHOW a month for people to air their grievances in a live format.

There is NOW a rough draft of a preview show with Pastor John in which I use audio from his video on his site, available for your listening (click the LOGO above). To let you know what to expect. The full and finished show will be finished and released in a few days. I will have MY INTERVIEW with pastor John coming in 1-2 weeks.

There will be 3 points of distribution for the How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW and it’s Sister show OccultAgendaExposure.Info RADIO which will start sometimes in February.

1. BlogTalkRadio. The shows can be viewed and participated in at this URL http://www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian The shows will also be available for download and listening there.

2. There will be shows that WILL NOT air at BTR. Those shows will be distributed at SoundClick.com at this URL http://www.soundclick.com/how2becomeachristian and the BLOGs

3. ALL shows will be broadcast from a respective BLOGPOST for that show episode.

http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/

AND

http://OccultAgendaExposure.Wordpress.Com

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GUEST WISHLIST:

Scheduled: Guy Malone, John Edwards

Almost Scheduled: Peter Goodgame, Stan Deyo, Patrick Hering, David lowe, john Edwards, Michael heiser, Bill scnoebelen, Dave Ruffino, Jim Wilhelson, Joe Jordan, David Flynn
Wishful yet hopeful: Justin peters, Sandy Simpson, Rick Ross, biblical truth for Mormons, Mormon curtain, 20 truths about Mormonism, Keith and Lorrie Macgragor, and their Trinitarian friend, Ed Decker, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at peering into the darkness, PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at shatter the darkness, Christ White No Where to Run from Revere Radio Network and Revelation Radio, Ron Rhodes: Reasoning from the Scriptures ministries, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at Peering into the Darkness PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at Shatter the Darkness, Chris , James Spencer at Maze Ministry, Matt Slick at carm, Kirby Anderson Probe Ministries.

MORE TO ADD SOON. If you would like to submit a name or ministry to this list. Please leave the name or ministry name in the comment field below.

How2BecomeAChristian (with a numeral 2) ministries is a Christian Apologetics Ministry primarily devoted to answering the question “How to become a Christian?” The ministry focuses on Christian essentials but also covers all non essential doctrines and issues concerning Christianity and religion in general. Including all non/Christian religions, aberrant Christian cults, the Occult, the New Age Movement and much more.

All material produced by How2BecomeAChristian (with a numeral 2) ministries IS LICENSED for your FREE USE under Commons Copyright Licensing.

//www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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Some of the Real Rotten Roots of Modern Word of Faith Theology

I posted an article before on Positive Confession, Word Faith, Logos and Rhema, and some of the heresies associated with it. {see here http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/positive-negative-confession-word-faith-logos-rhema/ }

Some of the modern Positive Confession Word Faith heresy has evolved from the Christian Science of Mary Baker Eddy, which although known by most folk today as a cult run by a blasphemous false prophetess, influenced to varying degrees ‘the church’ during the late 1800s/early 1900s.

Prayer, from the Christian Science perspective, does not appeal to ask God to intervene in a situation, but is rather a process of learning more of “God’s” spiritual reality within all of us [typical new age] – “awakening mortal thought” to the so-called spiritual truth there is no such thing as evil, disease, death and it is all an illusion. So battling for the mind and the thoughts and getting that ‘right’ by basically being in denial, and utilising mind over ‘illusionary’ matter – and basically mesmering/hypnotising oneself to be well by positive thought. {Interestingly, Eddy thought conversely that ‘negative’ thinking could kill, even from another from a distance, and claimed one of her husbands died this way.]

Note already the similarities with these ideas promoted by Eddy and some modern church thinking within the prosperity gospel/word faith movement.

If you are struggling to see the pattern at the moment, just exchange some of the Christian Science terminology for more familiar Christian sounding words commonly distorted and used out of context today, such as:-

faith
confession
believe
seed
holding on
holding onto the promise
taking authority over
take full authority
command
creative force
speak out
declare
decree
rebuke
bind
cast out
denounce
throw off
casting down each thought
taking each thought captive
foothold
renewal/battle of the mind
visualise
eyes of faith
rhema
word of faith
word of life
’mustard seed’
taking the land
destiny
crossing the Jordan
achieving victory
victorious
spiritual breakthrough
anointed
power
spiritual laws
dominion
defeating the enemy
prosperity
health
name
claim
inheritance
being a champion
positive
negative
thought life
spiritual warfare

And conversely ‘negative words/thinking’, ‘critical spirit’, ‘unbelief’, ‘fear’, ‘doubt’ ’witchcraft’ et al.

Among other terrible things Christian Science teaches [and again you should see the similarities of thinking within the word faith movement, just dressed up a little in a more ‘palatable’ form, and I have included as well as the similarities the blasphemy and other nonsense just so you can see how rotten its roots actually are] –

“In Christian Science we learn there are not two powers – a good one that overcomes an evil one. There is only one power, omnipotent, omnipresent good. Christian Science therefore recognizes all discord such as sin, disease, death, lack and limitation as merely illusion. In this realization – in our ability to rest in the Word of God – the problem that confronts us dissolves; healing takes place.

Mrs. Eddy continually admonished students to expose and denounce evil and errors of every nature but recognize no reality in them since they are illusions, hypnotic suggestion only.

What Conclusion Should We Arrive At?

If you think about it seriously must you not arrive at the conclusion that if God is All, is infinite, is good only, is omnipotent and omnipresent–and there is nothing present but infinite good, it’s nature and its qualities–then must not sin, disease, lack, and limitation, discord of any kind, be illusion? Must these not be the result of universal hypnotic suggestion?

When we believe disease has power, and try to rid ourselves of it, we actually increase its seeming power over us, but if we hold to the Truth that omnipotent Mind–the Mind that is our real Mind–possesses all power, and this power is in the invisible spirit of God within us, we gain the conviction that there is no power in the visible form–the body, the condition, the person, place, thing–and therefore the discord or disease disappears.

The false sense disappears because we have obeyed Jesus’ admonition to resist not evil – resist not illusions, hypnotic suggestions, animal magnetism. The discord has disappeared because the spirit of Truth, the kingdom of God within our consciousness, has acted to dispel the illusion.

Jesus’ life gave us a monumental demonstration of overcoming the illusions of mortal mind. Was there ever a greater seeming defeat, from the mortal standpoint, than Calvary? Was there ever a greater victory than the resurrection? Mrs. Eddy’s life too was a series of snatching stunning victories from the jaws of defeat (illusion, hypnotic suggestion). What these two Wayshowers accomplished we can accomplish, too. These victories are also available for us.

Dispelling the Illusion

Because mortals have been reared in a material sense of life they hold themselves in bondage to form, and so commit idolatry–they bow down and fear a form labeled body, disease, money, person, place, thing, condition. But Christian Science reveals there is a presence and power, which as we contact it, becomes a law unto us; it becomes “He that performeth that which is given me to do.”

The spirit of Truth can dispel the illusion only when we arrive at the inner conviction that power does not exist in the visible form. Spirit–infinite good, reality–is the only substance; it shadows forth infinite forms, but the power remains in the Mind, the Spirit, the Principle. For example, the principle of mathematics has infinite forms each of which can be erased from the blackboard, but the principle can reproduce the examples, the calculations, the forms, because the power and reproductive capacity always remains in the principle. It is the same with the Principle of our being. The power is never in the visible form. Jesus told his listeners, “Destroy this temple [this body, this form] and in three days, I [my divine Mind, the ‘I’ that I am, the Principle], will raise it up,” will reproduce it.

When error looms, we have a decision to make. We will have a battle (since the illusions seem so real, and continually present pictures to us of things that do not exist in reality). Christian Science asks: Is there a something, a condition, that has to be overcome? Is there a condition that Truth must do something to?

Christian Science teaches that other people do not have the power to bedevil our life. But we must know this. When we expose and denounce evil we must at the same time recognize no reality in it.

We Must Know the Truth that Frees

One of Mrs. Eddy’s most valued students, Flavia Knapp, felt keenly the envy, jealousy, malice, hate, and persecution directed against her; therefore at a testimony meeting, after testifying of her many wonderful healings, she concluded by asking: “For which of these works do ye stone me?”

Two weeks later she died. She had personalized error, had made it real. It was the suggestion, illusion, appearing in her own thinking, that caused her to believe in the power of animal magnetism (error, hypnotic suggestion, illusion) and which prompted her to enter her public protest against this illusion. Jesus said, “A man’s foes shall be those of his own household.”

Mrs. Knapp had failed to heed the Christian Science teaching that when we feel thoughts of error we should vehemently enter a protest against our own belief in it. She should have understandingly declared: “No, you are not real; you can’t be real since God, the kingdom of God within me, is All, and has sovereign power; therefore I know you are nothing but hypnotic suggestion. This error has no power of its own; it is coming to me to give it life, and I refuse to give it any!” Then the error, the illusion, would have vanished, and Mrs. Knapp would have continued with her wonderful mission on this plane of existence.

Our great work in this world is to let the light within our own consciousness expand further and further into the darkness until this light– from “the kingdom of God within [us]“banishes all darkness and error.

What Makes Evil, Error Vanish?

If we stand fast in divine Science, the divine knowing that God, infinite good, is All, is One, is omnipotent and omnipresent, then is there a discord to be overcome? Is there disease, lack and limitation to be overcome? The answer, of course, is “No!” Christian Science calls on us to decide between reality and appearances, between the Spirit and the flesh. “The belief that life and sensation are in the body should be overcome by the understanding of what constitutes man as the image of God [our true Mind]. Then Spirit will have overcome the flesh” (S&H 289:4). When we are in that consciousness where “the spirit of the Lord God is upon [us],” evil of every nature vanishes.

Mary Baker Eddy’s great discovery revealed that materiality and the discords confronting us are not a power. They cannot be a power since God, our real Mind, alone is power; Spirit (reality, good) alone is power. Clinging to this truth we prove that materiality and discords are not a power. They are false concepts, misperceptions.

…. Belief in Two Powers Caused Suffering

Now we can understand why, even though the Bible was the guiding light and impetus for the ventures undertaken in the discovery and settling of America, so much adversity and suffering was encountered.

It was because the people involved–and this is still true of most of us–had a religious background which had instilled in them the belief of two powers.

They prayed to a God that did not exist. They prayed to God as a great power that could overcome other powers such as sin, disease, hunger, cold, or danger. There is no such God. God, our true Mind, “the kingdom of God within” us, knows no sin, disease, death, discord, or error. These people believed that evil was real and that God knew about evil; hence they were praying to a nonexistent God.

God’s nature as omnipresent good can have no opposite, hence evil is unreal. God is All; His work is done; evil is merely an illusion. But only as people understand the nature of God and the nature of man can there be unfailing, systematic demonstration of God as the ONE power, the only power.

Evil’s unreality was the great revelation that came to Mary Baker Eddy. So powerful was this revelation in Mrs. Eddy’s time that some practitioners took 100 patients a day and healed them all! This spread Christian Science around the world and built up the thousands of Christian Science churches.

Until Mrs. Eddy revealed the allness and ever-presence of infinite good, people did not realize that even “religion,” which believed in two powers–a good and an evil power–was a barrier to understanding the kingdom of God within their own consciousness; hence the suffering and hardship that has accompanied mankind’s progress.

…committing adultery, lying, cheating, getting drunk or smoking. The writings of Mary Baker Eddy–the second coming of the Christ–reveal sin as far more encompassing.

Sin is dishonoring God, the kingdom of God within our spiritual consciousness, by accepting the universal hypnotic suggestion that there is a material universe, and that humanity is separated from the one Mind, God–the real Mind of man.

This belief in a material universe, inhabited by flesh-blood-bones bodies, is what is meant by having “other gods.” It breaks the First Commandment.

From the point of view of the Science of being there is no difference between the belief in lack, sorrow, and disease, and the belief in any other so-called sin, such as adultery or stealing. They are all ILLUSION, merely hypnotic suggestion. God being All, there is naught besides. Error of any kind is unreal. Once we see this we can heal, just like a mathematician can “heal” 2×2=5, because he has learned it is 4.

….. Christian Science instructs us to dwell on what we already are and what we already have because of the fact that “I and the Father [Mind] are one….And all that the Father [Mind] hath is mine.”….I and the Mind that is Love are one, and all that Mind hath is mine. This is a great impersonal universal truth that applies to every man, woman, and child in the universe.

The understanding and acceptance of this Truth would end greed and every form of discord, and bring into focus the ever-present reign of harmony, the kingdom of heaven.

Christian Science asks: if you accept an infinite God, an infinite good that is all, omnipotent, omnipresent, an infinite Spirit beside which there is naught else, can there, in reality, actually be discord such as sin, disease, lack?”

{source http://mbeinstitute.org/America/AmerIntro.html#anchor873259 ]
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http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/some-of-the-real-rotten-roots-of-modern-word-of-faith-theology/

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AN EX-WORD FAITH PREACHER Comes Full Circle: From Baptist, to Baptist bashing Word of faith Preacher and back to Baptist. Go figure

About a month ago I was blessed to have an Ex-Word of faith preacher visit this site. I have posted a couple of his writings from his Blog and have talked with him via email and telephone. AS He and his site are totally awesome. I will be interviewing John Edwards sometimes this week and will have it up for downloading and listening soon after.

I encourage you to visit John’s site. He says he wants to make his Blog into a Book. I believe it will make an excellent book. John needs someone to help him with editing as he wants to self publish. If you or anyone you know has editing talent and would like to help Pastor John. Please give him an e-mail. Faithpreacher.blogspot.com

Here is three of his post that would make a good chapter together. I HOPE YOU FIND HIS STORY AS INTERESTING AS ME. DON’T MISS Johns video above.

I have a short comment AND OPINION POLL at the end.

 

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My Journey Has Come Full Circle

It sure feels good to be a regular guy. That is what I like the most about my new life. I work hard all day with my hands, so my mind has plenty of time to reflect. There are some things that are just now dawning on me. Things are becoming clear, and the purpose of this whole last year is coming into focus.

I was born and raised in the Southern Baptist Church. As soon as I became a teenager, I started going on youth retreats with elements of Briarwood Presbyterian Church. While on the yearly retreats to Gatlinburg, I became a disciple of a guy named Chuck Jones. I attended all of his Bible studies at UAB until I backslid and joined the Marine Corps.

Looking back on my life and my faith, I had been Baptist/Presbyterian all of my life. The teachings of John Calvin and Martin Luther made up my spiritual core.

A lot of my friends were Charismatic, but I always shied away from them when it came to tongues. You know why? Cause they bragged on it and the great power that came with it, but they were involved in all kinds of sexual sin. I could not see any difference between them and me.

I married a girl that was raised Roman Catholic and then became a Charismatic. We would argue over beer and theology for years. She wanted us to attend a Charismatic church so after a few years of not being in church, we went. It was a Charismatic church in Roebuck. A fight broke out right in the middle of the service! I left there convinced that all Charismatics were loony and unstable.

As a Marine, and a Police officer I stayed backslid. I went to church twice in ten years. I was still very Calvinistic in my faith. I was not afraid of being killed on duty. I knew that my days were numbered in Heaven and that nothing could change the Providence of God. I pretty much had no worries in life.

Then in 1994 my wife was exposed to the AIDS virus, and her pregnancy with Brian had some complications. Someone gave me a Kenneth Hagin book. Here was a new religion that promised health, wealth, miracles, supernatural power and all of my prayers answered exactly as I desired with one catch: I just needed to have faith. So that began a 14 year ride on the wild side. Went from being a happy backslidden Calvinist, to a tongue talking, devil stomping, faith healing, scripture speaking, believe ye receive it fanatic. I was so on fire about the Faith Message that I forsook all and headed to Tulsa.

I sat in class at Tulsa hearing about miracles, signs and wonders every single day! All I had to do was to keep sowing seed, be faithful, not criticize, tithe, make the right confessions, speak the right scriptures, listen to all the Cd’s on faith, attend prosperity seminars, faith seminars, special Holy Ghost meetings, laughter meeting, prophetic meetings, special anointed meetings, etc, etc.

I did all of this stuff for fourteen years. It is a bunch of hype. I never saw a miracle, never saw a true healing of a serious disease, never saw the big harvest, never had what I confessed, never felt the goosebumps. Why? Because, 90% of all things Charismatic are HYPE. A bunch of made up stuff, far fetched testimonies, hearsay, and plenty of bad doctrine from loopy people that never went to a reputable seminary. I saw a lot of emotion and a lot of hype. I never saw the Charismatic Word of Faith message work for anyone but the Big Dawgs on TV.

Finally, God opened my eyes to all the junk and error, and led me right back to my spiritual roots of Calvinism. I am back where I started!

But why did I take that wrong exit into that strange and dangerous neighborhood

Because God has a plan bigger than my plan. He wanted me to see the hype and the deception from inside.

Thank God for His care, to rescue from deception and hype, and to bring me back to the True Gospel of the Bible.

I saw a billboard advertising one of the popular recently divorced charismatic word of faith televangelist coming to town and grieved. I thought about how many poor and desperate folks would show up for her meetings, sow their best seed and leave with nothing. It is sad. She will laugh all the way to the bank. I guess they will have to find out for themselves. God is in control, not man.

I advise everyone that reads this blog, to find a good church that teaches Reformed Theology, because that is the theology that Christ and Paul taught. Find yourself a Southern Baptist Church that is Reformed, or find a Presbyterian Church and plug in. And if anyone ever invites you to a Word of Faith church, run like Forrest Gump! Run Forrest Run!

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-journey-has-come-full-circle.html

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When I was Baptist

I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church and was very happy in it. I stayed backslid a lot but I loved God and had a tremendous amount of faith in Him. When I was a Baptist I truly believed in the Sovereignty Of God and that He was in total control of my life. I believed that I was eternally saved and that I could never, ever loose my salvation and my relationship with Him no matter how bad I blew it. When I was a Baptist I believed that God had a specific plan and that nothing could ever hinder it. I believed that my steps were ordered of Him and that no matter what God was going to have His way. When I was a Baptist I believed that there was a time written in God’s Providence for me to die and that nothing could change that. I believed that my days were numbered according to His will and purpose. When I was Baptist I was very aware of God’s Awesomeness and my inability. When I was Baptist I was afraid of God in a respectful way. When I was a Baptist I wanted to run things past God before I did them. When I was Baptist I was very concerned about lost people going to Hell. When I was a Baptist I never, ever doubted His existence or His love for me. When I was a Baptist I believed that God was in control of all events in my life and that even the bad ones were some how working for my favor.

When I was a Baptist I had peace and joy. When I was a Baptist my focus was on Jesus.
Then I started reading Word of Faith books. I read every book that I could find. I listened to hundreds of tapes and Cd’s. I was excited about the Word of Faith message. It put me in control of my life. Having been in the Marine Corps and having been a Police Officer, I was used to being in charge of things. I was used to being the Boss. It was a perfect way of thinking for me. The Word of Faith promised me a sickness free life, a long life, and a rich life. It promised me that I could use my words to frame my world. It taught me that I could speak whatever I wanted into existence. The Word of Faith taught me how to get a vision and write it out. It taught me to speak things out and to shoot for the stars. The Word of Faith promised me power and authority of everything in my life and that I could create and rule my world and circumstances with my words.The Word of Faith left God and His Sovereignty out of the picture. All I had to do was to speak and believe what I wanted, money, health, fame, success, the power was in my tongue. The Word of Faith taught me that I was the one responsible for everything that I had in life, that everything in my life was a result of words, good or bad. I learned that I could have what I said. I learned how to twist and manipulate entire passages of the Bible to line it up with health, wealth and victory. I learned how to debunk the whole book of Job. I learned how to get rich God’s way, by planting money seeds and speaking words of prosperity. I learned to ignore symptoms in my body and to think of the pains as lies of the devil.

I lived and believed like this for fourteen years. I taught this for eight years.

I will tell you what the Word of Faith message did for me. It turned me into a self-centered person more concerned with my plans and needs than anything else. Instead of trusting in God I began to trust in my words and in my faith. I dummy downed God. I thought God had to follow my rules of confession. I thought I could boss God around and talk Him into seeing things my way. I became obsessed with myself. I became full of pride. I also began to sink into depression and darkness. The Word of Faith had taught me that it was all about me and that I was in control and that everything good was riding on my faith and confession. Needless to say, I was putting so much pressure on myself to believe that I was miserable. All of the faith formulas and prayer rules that I had learned in the Word of Faith had me so bound in legalistic chains that I could no longer pray or talk to God. I was miserable. God got smaller and smaller in my thinking because I was the one in charge. I stayed frustrated and aggravated because my confessions were not working and my prayers went unanswered. Even worse was that I was teaching hundreds of people the same message and they were having the same results. They still had sickness and lack and problems.

they to began to spiral down into depression and burn out from trying to be perfect in their confessions and acts of faith.

It is a false message. It is cultic. It destroys the concept of God that He wants us to have.
Praise God for His patience and love for me! God has opened my eyes and rescued me from myself and this false religion! I have returned to my roots. I have abandoned the Word of Faith and returned to the Word of God and my relationship with Him. For me God is in control again. His will be done. I am feeling alive again. I can feels God’s love again. I am trusting fully in Him and His ability and in His plan. He is in control. He is on the throne. He is my God again!

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2008/07/when-i-was-baptist.html

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Naming Names and Baptist Bashing

I have been accused of naming names and bashing the Word of Faith Movement. I have been accused of not walking in love. A lot of people I know think Jesus walked around like a sissy. A lot of people I know wouldn’t like Jesus if they ever heard him preach. Jesus was full of love and rebuke. He named names. He called a spade a spade. He was very confrontational. He even bull whipped some folks at church one day, with a whip he made! He called Herod a “Fox” which was slang for homosexual. He called his critics snakes. Love in action.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the “Love” chapter named names. He would call false teachers by their names and have the letter read out loud to the church.
The Apostle of Love, John, named names.

It is a minister’s right and moral obligation to point out false teachers and false doctrine. A pastor is responsible for his flock. If he sees his flock flirting with the wolves then it is his job to point out the wolf. Love will point out danger.

Paul told Timothy to rebuke with all authority.

Christians are scared to speak out these days. Any time some one does speak out against error they are rebuked for not walking in love.

When I was a Word of Faith teacher, I loved to bash the Baptist Church. I learned how to do this from my main teacher in Bible school. He loved to poke fun at the Baptist. Bless their “darling hearts” and “stupid heads.” Many Word of Faith ministers trash the Baptist. But let someone criticise Kenneth Hagin and all of a sudden the love walk is brought up.

Many Word of Faith people feel vastly superior to the Baptist. When I was a WOFer, I looked down on the Baptist as missing out on the promises and power of God. Over the years it finally dawned on me that our lives were no better than theirs. We were confessing things, believing things, claiming things and calling things that be not as though they were and going no where in a hurry. At the same time the Baptist were doing just fine with out the faith message.

Have you ever noticed that Word of Faith people that claim healing still have to use doctors and medicine just like the powerless Baptist? Did you know that Word of Faith people that claim the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the blessing of praying in tongues still make stupid decisions and fall into deception and false doctrine? Have you also noticed that the Word of Faith people that claim so much revelation knowledge about the Word of God have no more power than the Baptist? They are no more wiser, no more holy and no better off in any way. I have also noticed that although so much emphasis is placed on prosperity, the Word of Faith people are no richer!

I remember visiting a tiny Word of Faith church in Mississippi. We were out in the parking lot burning with envy at the gigantic Baptist Mega Church across the street. That Baptist church was always full of people and money and people getting saved, But they did not have near the revelation knowledge that we had. What was wrong?

By the way, the term revelation knowledge is really a charismatic term referring to special knowledge about God unknowable to Baptist because the Baptist refuse the baptism. What it usually is though is some hokey nonsense doctrine put out by someone on TBN anyhow.

I guess my point is that when I was Word of Faith we loved to criticise and bash denominational Christians and felt vastly superior to them. We were big on love until it came to bashing others. Now that I am pointing out error in the Word of Faith, all of a sudden the table is turned and I’m no longer walking in love. Go figure!

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2008/08/naming-names-and-baptist-bashing.html

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I have to smile when I read this. I have an aunt who is a word faith preacher and I as a Baptist catch grief because of that LOL. It not just Baptist though. They don’t like any “HALF GOSPEL CHURCH”

One day my Aunt told me. “Damon, you’re a very talented theologian. In fact your so talented and knowledgeable about theology that you should be a teacher of theologians.”

Now I will ask you all

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

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

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

Introduction: So What’s The Big Deal?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GETTING SOME BALANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, the Copeland’s insist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet Kenneth Copeland allegedly writes:

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

and on his website:

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

Yet Copeland writes:

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

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

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

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

The Blessings of Suffering, Sickness, and Hardship

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

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

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

Yet on his website Kenneth Copeland writes:

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

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

Blessed by God?

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:
(KCM is short for Kenneth Copeland Ministries)

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

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Cultic Renewal of Indulgences

By J. Danny Hone

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

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

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

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

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

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

In perhaps his boldest Theses, Luther asked:

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

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patti goes on to write:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these words from Christ:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes

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