The Word of Faith Movement, also known as Prosperity Theology, is alive and well especially in American Christianity; with much of the credit(?) being given to TBN ( Trinity Broadcasting Network ) and its myriads of ( supposed ) preachers of the word and pastors of the flock. Word of Faith Theology is extremely hard to pin down as it does not have an official statement of faith, a creed or confession, and is not even a denomination, though many of its adherents would fall into various Pentecostal/Charismatic circles.
Never the less, one of its main controversial tenets is how those who follow it define faith. They most often use a definition akin to Positive Confession which states:
we are created in the image of God thus we have the ability to release faith-filled words creating reality.
Compared to E.W. Kenyon’s thoughts:
Man is a little god, created in ” God class “, and therefore can use the same faith that God has to speak things into existence.
Some of the most outspoken propenents of this doctinre today are Paul Crouch ( founder and president of TBN ), Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Jesse Duplantis.
They have been quoted as saying the following:
Kenneth Copeland: God did not create the world out of nothing, He used the Force of His Faith. (Spirit, Soul and Body, #01-0601, Tape #1)
Benny Hinn: Sow a big seed, when you confess it, you are activating the supernatural forces of God. (Praise-a-thon (TBN), recorded November 1990)
Joyce Meyer: in her book, writes, “Words are containers for power” (The Name, The Word, The Blood, p. 37).
Creflo Dollar: Whatever you believe, you must speak.
Jesse Duplantis: “I said to Paul, you went through great persecution.” “Yes,” he answered, “but I kept the faith. I focused my life on faith. That’s how you get things done. . .Never change the message because of the hearers. Speak what God gives you”
This theology, naming it a claiming it, in nearly all of its permutations, can be traced to E.W. Kenyon and subsequently to Kenneth ” Pop ” Hagin.
Hagin is quoted as saying in one of his articles:
“You Can Have What You Say”:
“Often you create your own negative situations yourself with wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong speaking. So start believing according to God’s Word. Then begin making positive confessions of faith and victory over your life. … You will never receive anything from God beyond the words you speak. … If you don’t like what you have in life, then begin to change the way you are thinking, believing, and speaking. Instead of speaking according to natural circumstances out of your head, learn to speak God’s Word from your spirit. Begin to confess God’s promises of life and health and victory into your situation. Then you can begin to enjoy God’s abundant life as you have what you say!”
Kenyon’s introducton of New Thought into the Church and its viral spread throughout the 20th Century has lead to confusion on what Faith is in the Church and in the life of the Believer.
The following exchange between Kenneth Copeland and Paul Crouch is endemic to the problem:
Copeland: The Force of Faith is in the Spiritual Realm a great deal like certain forces in the natural realm. It is spiritual force, like gravity is a natural force, and electricity is a natural force of power.
Crouch: A measurable Natural Force.
Copeland: It’s a measurable force, its conductible, perceptible to the touch…
Crouch: ….Does God use faith??
Crouch:…The critics say God is God. He doesn’t have to use faith….He’s the object of faith.
Copeland:..waith a minute….what does that mean? Object of faith. I don’t know what that means.
The Reduction of God
There are more than a couple problems with that exchange but first and foremost it reduces the Infinite Creator of the Universe to using a natural force to create and reach His desired ends. Does God use natural Laws? Yes, He does and through Christ all things are sustained ( Colossians 1:16-17 ). It is through His sustaining power that these laws continue to function and through their temporary suspension ( miracles ) that He demostrates His power over them.
Does God give grace and faith to fallen men allowing them to come to Him? Yes, but God, who is the maker of all things is not subservient to Creation or a spiritual force akin to gravity.
By making God the user of an invisible force they are attempting to bring Him down to their level and raise themselves up to His. Now man has the same power that God does, we can create our reality, and the Giver of life is relegated to ” faith-force co-opt ” providing your faith needs since creation.
The Object of Our Faith
Also, we should realize that Christ, the God-man, is the object of our faith. He is the objective reality, embodied in the story of the Gospel, which declares Him to be the Christ, our sinless and Risen Lord, who purchased a people for Himself by the shedding of His precious blood. The Person of Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has accomplished, is the object of our faith…our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and Righteousness. He has secured the new birth, justification, sanctification, and ultimately glorification for those who believe in Him. Without the Objective reality of Christ, the Cross, and the Empty Tomb there is no Gospel and our faith is in vain.
Not only is our faith in Him, He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith ( Hebrews 12:2 ). It is by grace throught faith, not of ourselves, ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ) that we can come into a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is not the mystical manifestation of a spiritual ” force ” that operates indepedently of God Almighty…..faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen ( Hebrews 11:1 ). Our Great Hope ( 2 Corinthians 3 ) is the resurrection of these frail bodies into our glorified state ( 1 Corinthians 15 )….and it is only because of Christ that we have this hope.
It ( faith ) is not only the substance of our hope, but it is also the evidence of things not seen. Remember what the Risen Christ told Thomas
28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
We have evidence, but this evidence means nothing without eyes to see and ears to hear ( Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 5:21, Matthew 13:15, Romans 11:8 ). It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit in one’s life and the drawing of the Father to the Son that life and faith is even possible.
WE cannot create new worlds by speaking them into existence. WE cannot produce wealth and health by naming it and claiming it. Though our tongues are dangerous ( James 3 ) they are not divine. Faith is not a force that is wielded by those skilled in the arts of Prosperity, it is not activated by the speaking of the right words but is rather, the knowledge of, and trust in, the giver of all life, Jesus Christ. I pray that by the working of the Holy Spirit that you will be lead into all Truth and have the faith that saves.
What do you think?