The Word-Faith Movement (also known as the "Faith Movement", "Faith Formula", "Word of Faith" (WOF), "Hyperfaith", "Positive Confession", "Name It and Claim It", and "Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Teaching") is a materialistic, superstitious, division of the Charismatic movement. It is because so many charismatics are unsure of the finality of Scripture that such dangerous cultish/false systems can grow. It mixes mysticism, dualism, and gnosticism, borrowing generously from the teachings of the metaphysical cults. The Leaders of this Word-Faith movement promise believers financial prosperity and perfect health.
It has two closely related factions: the Peale/Schuller Positive-Possibility thinkers, with their roots in New Thought, and the Hagin/Copeland Positive Confession and Word-Faith groups, which have their roots in E.W. Kenyon, William Branham, and the Manifest Sons of God/Latter Rain Movement. Judith Matta documents in her book, 'The Born Again Jesus of the Word of Faith Teaching," that many doctrines of the Word-Faith Movement were lifted directly from the writings of 19th century Mind Science cults such as Christian Science, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, Science of Mind, and New Thought.
As the name "Word-Faith" implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace. The term "positive confession" refers to the Word-Faith teaching that words have creative power. They claim that your "confessions," that is, the things you say, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer. They view their positive confessions as an incantation by which they can conjure up anything they desire: "Believe it in your heart; say it with your mouth. That is the principle of faith. You can have what you say".
It is a Popular message that appeals to todays Laodiceans, because all it demands is faith, and if you have enough faith you'll get rich and healthy. It moves the believers' focus off sound doctrine, and shifts it to promises of physical, financial, and material blessings. Does God really promise health and wealth?
Most false man-made religions worship gods whose function it is to serve man and deliver what he wants, instead of man serving God. In Biblical Christianity God uses the believer, in the Word-Faith religion the believer uses God. Word-Faith theology sees the Holy Spirit as a Power to be put to use for whatever the believer wants. The Bible teaches, however, that the Holy Spirit is a person who enables the believer to do whatever God wants. The Word-Faith Movement is no different from human religions such as voodoo where God can be coerced, cajoled, manipulated, controlled, and exploited for the believers own ends. The movement is nothing more than Black Magic, the absolute opposite of Scripture.
The blatant abuses of the "name it and claim it", or "health and wealth" gospels of the movement are well known, as are the con-games. They even resort to Psycic sideshow acts "I see someone sending me a offering of $$$ and God is showing me the wealthy cheque that is on its way to that person very soon", and sell their rip-off get rich quick books, "God's Formula for Success and Prosperity", "God's Creative Power Will Work for You", "Releasing the Ability of God Through Prayer", and so on. The fact that these con-men camouflage their Gnostic beliefs with Christian terminology and pose as followers of christ is devastating.
The term Gnosticism derives from the Greek word gnosis, meaning "knowledge." A "gnostic" is one who exalts knowledge above any spiritual, moral, or intellectual value. Knowledge becomes the tool for controlling life. As a first century heresy, Gnosticism taught that there is "secret knowledge" or "gnosis" and that these esoteric secrets are obtainable only to an elite group of Gnostic priests.
The elite group in the Word-Faith Movement claims to receive "revelation knowledge" (apart from the scriptures). They say they are the "Lord's Anointed" (Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, etc.) and impart these revelations to others who sit under their teachings.
Cerinthus, an early Gnostic heretic, tried to merge Christian doctrine regarding Christ with more mystical concepts. He taught a distinction between the man and the "Christ spirit" which descended upon Him at His baptism and later departed at His crucifixion. This information is well documented in Ireneaus' monumental work, "Against Heresies." This doctrine is repeated within the Word Of Faith teachings as the leaders of the movement claim that Christ died spiritually and thus gave up His divinity and was born again in His resurrection.
Greg Durand of Logos Outreach, a counter-cult ministry, in their publication, Outreach Expositor, ties Gnosticism and WOF together. He says,
"Like all forms of Gnostic philosophy, the Faith movement downplays the significance of the physical realm... To those in the WOF man is a spirit, has a soul and lives in a body" (Vol.5, No.2, p.16).
"To those entrenched in the WOF, the real man is supposedly a spirit creature that exists in God's Class...the body is seen as merely the tabernacle in which the spirit man temporarily resides" (Ibid., p.16)."
The Word-Faith movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that ravaged the early church. Paul and other apostles identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid "Men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain." (1 Timothy 6:5b). Paul was dealing with those who thought godliness was a ticket for money. Paul said to Timothy,
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. [1 Tim 6:9-11]
These cults are generated out of a love for money. Jude wrote of the greed mongers of his day,
Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever ... These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. [Jude 11-13, 16]
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. [2 Pet 2:1-3]
Peter went on to say,
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. [2 Pet 2:18-19]
Preachers of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel are people corrupted by the love of money. Paul said covetousness is idolatry and:
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them" [Eph. 5:5-7]
Paul forbade the Ephesians to be partakers with anyone who brought either a message of immorality or a message of covetousness.
The Word-Faith Movement is the closest thing on earth to the greed cults of the New Testament era which the apostles bluntly labeled heresy. At almost every turn the Word-Faith movement has tainted, twisted, garbled, misunderstood, corrupted, or obliterated the crucial doctrines of Christian faith.
- It has a distorted Christology that is a warped view of Christ.
- It has a distorted view of man, an exulted view of man.
- It has a theology built on human works.
- It has a process of sanctification that justifies greed.
- It has a belief that new revelation from within the group is unlocking secrets that have been hidden from the Church for years.
- It believes that extrabiblical human writings are inspired and authoritative.
- It has an exclusivity that compels its adherents to shun any and every criticism of the movement. In fact, as you know, Benny Hinn said if anybody criticizes him he wants, "to get a Holy Ghost machine gun and blow their head off!"
The god of the Word-Faith movement is not the God of the Bible. Word-Faith teaching sets the individual believer above God, and turns God into Santa Claus, or a genie who is there to do whatever the Christian tells Him. The Word-Faith teachers are their own supreme authority.
Many Word-Faith teachers claim that Jesus was "Born Again" so that we might become "little gods." Scripture, however, teaches that Jesus is God and it is we who must be born again.
Two proof texts are often used by the Word-Faith teachers to support their teaching. They always quote Psalm 82:6, where God says to the rulers of earth, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.", and so they say, "See, God says we are gods!"
A simple reading of the Psalm however, says something completely different. If you look at the Psalm it will reveal to you that those words were spoken to ungodly rulers who were on the brink of judgment. Look at verses 7 and 8, "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations." There is a note of irony here. God looks at these rulers and they have been judging unjustly. Back in verse 2 they have been showing partiality to the wicked, doing injustice rather than justice, in their own eyes they think they are gods, God says ironically, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High." (v6), and so they say, "See, God says we are gods!", "But ye shall die like men, ..." (v7a) Die like what? "Men." How could you ever take verse 6 out of that context and make it an affirmation that a Christian has become a god? Far from confirming their godhood, God is condemning them for thinking they were gods!
The other proof text used by the Word-Faith teachers to support their teaching is John 10:33-34. This is where Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, so if you understand Psalm 82:6 you don't have a problem understanding John 10. "The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods?" [John 10:33-34] Notice that Jesus' purpose for choosing that verse was that it would have been a very familiar one to the Scribes and Pharisees. They would have understood that the verse was an condemnation of wicked rulers, and Jesus is simply echoing the irony of the original Psalm. Walter Martin wrote an excellent comment on this, He said, "Jesus mocks the people as if to say, 'You all think you are gods yourselves. What's one more god among you?'" Oh, the irony. You are going to stone me for claiming to be God, you all are claiming the same thing. What's one more god? The sarcasm.
Walter Martin continues, "Irony is used to provoke us, not to inform us. It is not a basis for building a theology." Further, Walter Martin says, "It is also pertinent to an understanding of John 10 that we remember that Satan is called the "ruler of this world" by no less an authority than Jesus Christ, and Paul reinforces this by calling him the "god of this age." We can make a god out of anything: money, power, status, position, sex, patriotism, family, or as in Lucifer's case -- an angel. We can be our own god; but to call something deity or to worship it, or to treat it as divine is quite another thing. Then it is being by nature and in essence deity. Jesus is not calling them "God" in the true sense; He is saying that you have made a god out of yourselves just like the people in Psalm 82 who felt the blast of God's judgment. God said to the rebellious Israelites in Isaiah 29:16, "You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered equal with the clay" (Isaiah 29:16). Does the clay think it is equal to the potter?" According to the Word-Faith movement, what's the answer? "Yes, if not superior." They have the wrong god.
Just as Satan, disguised as a beautiful serpent, twisted Gods words and beguiled Eve with his extra biblical revelation, "Ye shall be as gods", moved her focus off Gods sound doctrine, and shifted it towards his popular message and promises about eating from the tree of Knowledge, - so too the materialistic Health and Wealth Teachers invite people to eat of their Gnostic tree of Knowledge, "Ye shall be as gods".
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