Religion:Word of Faith

From HandWiki
Short description: International Christian movement
Word of Faith
TheologyNeo-charismatic movement, Prosperity Gospel, New Apostolic Reformation
FounderE. W. Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin
Origin1980; 42 years ago (1980) United States

Word of Faith is a worldwide Christian movement which teaches that Christians can access the power of faith through speech. Its teachings are found on radio, the Internet, television, and in some Neo-charismatic churches and communities. Traditional Pentecostal churches cannot be categorized under this teaching. The movement teaches that the salvation won by Jesus on the cross included healing and wellbeing for believers, claiming support from scripture verses such as John 10:10, 1 Peter 2:24, and Romans 10:9-10.

Historical origins

Evangelist E.W. Kenyon (1867–1948) is usually cited as the originator of Word of Faith teaching. There is no sound evidence to substantiate this claim. E W Kenyon was a Baptist Pastor who taught many aspects that would agree with Word of Faith teaching, but is not recognised by Word of Faith ministries as the 'founder' of the movement, but rather as someone whose teachings have been influential.

Kenyon's writings influenced Kenneth Hagin Sr., the recognized "father" of the Word of Faith movement. Douglas Mcconnell has provided significant evidence that all of Hagin's major ideas came from the works of Kenyon.[1]


Distinctive Word of Faith teachings include physical, emotional, financial, relational, and spiritual healing for those who keep their covenant with God.[2] The movement urges believers to speak what they desire, in agreement with the promises and provisions of the Bible, as an affirmation of God's plans and purposes. They believe this is what Jesus meant when he said in Template:Biblesource that believers shall have whatsoever they say and pray with faith. The term word of faith itself is derived from Template:Biblesource which speaks of the word of faith that we preach.[3]


The Word of Faith teaches that complete healing (of spirit, soul, and body) is included in Christ's atonement and therefore is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently cited is Template:Biblesource, "by his stripes we are healed", and Template:Biblesource, which says Jesus healed the sick so that "it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the Prophet, 'Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses'."

Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense ("we are healed"), Word of Faith teaches that believers should accept the reality of a healing that is already theirs, first by understanding that physical healing is part of the New Testament's promise of salvation. It is reinforced by confessing the Bible verses which assert this healing and believing them while rejecting doubt. This does not deny pain, sickness, or disease, but denies its right to supersede the gift of salvation in Isaiah 53:5 and many other passages.[4] According to adherents, sickness is generally Satan's attempt to rob believers of their divine right to total health.[5]


Main page: Religion:Prosperity theology

Word of Faith teaching holds that God wants his people to prosper in all areas of life, including finances, health, marriage, and relationships. Word of Faith teaches that God's blessing empowers his people to achieve the Bible's promises.[6] Thus, suffering does not come from God, but from Satan. Kenneth Copeland's ministry has said that God does not use suffering for our benefit, and this idea is "a deception of Satan" and "absolutely against the Word of God." [7] If someone is not experiencing prosperity, it is because they have given Satan authority over their lives, and God will not do anything except when a believer invites him to.[8]

It is argued that Jesus and the apostles had worldly wealth,[9] owning homes and businesses. The following arguments have been offered for this claim:

  1. Jesus' ability to travel without apparently working to earn a living for three years
  2. References by Jesus and the apostles to owning homes[10]
  3. Jesus had a treasurer (Judas Iscariot)[10]
  4. Jesus consorting with the upper echelons of society
  5. Jesus' miraculous ability to command abundance - feeding the five thousand, finding tax money in a fish, telling Peter where the fish would overflow his net, etc.
  6. The businesses that each of the apostles apparently owned/worked in[11]

Based on their belief that Jesus and his apostles were wealthy, the historical examples of wealthy Christians, and the promises of prosperity throughout the Old and New Testaments, Word of Faith proponents teach that modern believers also have access to the blessing of financial wealth.[12] Teachers like Kenneth Copeland assert that total prosperity is validated by the teachings of the Apostle John: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (Template:Biblesource). Copeland posits that “as the seeds of prosperity are planted in your heart, in your will and in your emotions...they eventually produce a great financial harvest."[13]

Faith and confession

In Word of Faith teaching, a central element of receiving from God is "confession", often called "positive confession" or "faith confession" by practitioners. Practitioners will claim and affirm they have healing, well being, prosperity, or other promises from God, before actually experiencing such results. They do so in demonstration of their faith, which they believe will ultimately result in the fulfillment of their words. While similar, it should not be confused with Norman Vincent Peale's positive thinking theology focusing on the individual, as evidenced by the motto, "Faith in God and believe in oneself".[14] Noted Word of Faith teachers, such as Kenneth E. Hagin and Charles Capps, have argued that God created the universe by speaking it into existence (Template:Biblesource), and that God has endowed believers with this power. Thus, making a "positive confession" of God's promise and believing God's word stirs the power of resurrection which raised Christ from the dead (Template:Biblesource Template:Biblesource), and brings that promise to fulfilment. This teaching is interpreted from Template:Biblesource. A more recent variant of positive confession is "decree and declare".[15] Word of Faith preachers have called faith a "force".[16]

Conversely, "negative confession" can harm, so believers should be conscious of their words. This is argued on the interpretation of Template:Biblesource, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and they that love them will eat the fruit thereof", also Template:Biblesource, "...saith the Lord, as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do", among other scriptures.


Many of the movement's essential beliefs are often criticised by some Christians as diverging from Christian orthodoxy. Christian author Robert M. Bowman, Jr. states that the word of faith movement is "neither soundly orthodox nor thoroughly heretical".[17]

One of the earliest critics of Word of Faith teaching was Oral Roberts University professor Charles Farah, who published From the Pinnacle of the Temple in 1979. In the book, Farah expressed his disillusionment with the teachings, which he argued were more about presumption than faith.[18]

In 1982, one of Farah's students, Daniel Ray McConnell, submitted a thesis, Kenyon Connection, to the faculty at Oral Roberts University, tracing the teaching back through Hagin to Kenyon and ultimately to New Thought, and calling the distinctive Word of Faith beliefs a heretical "Trojan Horse" in the Christian church. McConnell's repeated this argument in his book, A Different Gospel, in 1988. [The problem with this assertion is that, although he attended the school for a short period in his teens, Kenyon was not subject to the teaching on New Thought. He was there at the age of 19 to study oratory for a year with a view to acting, not philosophy, having, for a short period, been disillusioned with Christianity. During this time he met a young Baptist woman who would ultimately become his wife. He went on her invite to her Baptist church. He subsequently left the college and was restored to faith, studying in the Baptist Seminary and becoming a Baptist minister. This is hardly evidence that he was influenced by New Thought. Rather that he backslid as a teen but was restored to faith and became a Pastor. He was actually influenced by evangelical Baptist theology, as were many in the succeeding charismatic movements.]

One of McConnell's classmates, Dale H. Simmons, published his own doctoral research at Drew University, arguing that Kenyon was influenced by heterodox metaphysical movements and the Faith Cure movement of the nineteenth century. In 1990, The Agony of Deceit surveyed the critiques of Word of Faith doctrines. One of the authors, Christian Research Institute founder Walter Martin, issued his personal judgment that Kenneth Copeland was a false prophet and that the movement as a whole was heretical.[19]

Milder criticisms were made by William DeArteaga in his book Quenching the Spirit. He concedes some New Thought influence in Kenyon's teaching, but argues that Kenyon's views helped the church rediscover some biblical truths. Arguing similarly but in an opposite direction is Robert M. Bowman, Jr., formerly of the Christian Research Institute. His book The Word-Faith Controversy is more sympathetic to Kenyon's historical background yet more critical of his doctrine than is DeArteaga's work.

Baptist evangelist Justin Peters, an outspoken critic of the Word of Faith movement, wrote his Master of Divinity thesis on Benny Hinn and has appeared frequently as an expert on Word of Faith pastors in documentaries and TV news stories. In his seminar "A Call for Discernment", he traces the movement's origins to the Phineas Quimby's New Thought Movement and Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In contrast, Pastor Joe McIntyre, now head of Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society in Washington (state) , argues that the primary influences of Kenyon were A.B. Simpson[20] and A.J. Gordon of the Faith Cure branch of the Evangelical movement. McIntyre's version is told in the authorized biography, E.W. Kenyon: The True Story.

That same year, Pentecostal scholar Gordon Fee wrote a series of articles denouncing what he called The Disease of the Health-and-Wealth Gospel.

In 1993, Hank Hanegraaff's Christianity in Crisis charged the Word of Faith movement with heresy and accused many of its churches of being "cults." He accused the Word of Faith teachers of "demoting" God and Jesus, and "deifying" man and Satan.[21] Hanegraaff has focused a significant portion of his anti-heresy teaching since the 1990s on addressing and refuting Word of Faith teachings.

Other critics, such as Norman Geisler, Dave Hunt and Roger Oakland, have denounced Word of Faith theology as aberrant and contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Critics have also condemned the teachings on wealth, arguing that the Bible condemns the pursuit of riches.[22][23]

John Piper points out that Christ warned the apostles that they would suffer great persecution[24] for his sake: except John, all eleven, after Judas Iscariot, suffered martyrs' deaths. In a January 2006 sermon entitled "How our Suffering Advances the Gospel," Piper stated bluntly that "the prosperity gospel will not make anybody praise Jesus; it will make people praise prosperity."

'Little gods' belief

Many Word of Faith teachers have sought to emphasize the full meaning of the believer's status as a child of God (through Christ) by using phrases such as "little gods" to describe them, a practice that has garnered some criticism from some other segments of the Christian community. Kenneth Hagin wrote that God "made us in the same class of being that he is himself," and that the believer is "called Christ" because "that's who we are, we're Christ!"[25] According to Hagin, by being "born again", the believer becomes "as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth".[26] Hagin like Kenyon reasons that humans are made in God's image. Since God is spirit, then humans must essentially be spirit as well and ‘in God’s class’,[27][28] and thereby ‘gods’.[27][29] Kenneth Copeland says Adam was "not a little like God... not almost like God...",[30] and has told believers that "You don't have a God in you. You are one." Based primarily on the Template:Biblesource, which says "I have said, Ye are gods and all of you, children of the Most High," this was also corroborated by Jesus making reference to this scripture in Template:Biblesource.[31] A common theme in Word of Faith preaching is that God created man as "an exact duplication of God's kind." (Template:Biblesource, Template:Biblesource, etc.)[32] It does not argue that man can work independently of God, but rather that the believer can live in God.[33]

Suffer the Children, a documentary highlighting some of the teachings of the Word of Faith movement, shows Creflo Dollar teaching the "little gods" doctrine to his congregation based on the notion that "everything reproduces after its own kind":[34]

Dollar: "If horses get together, they produce what?"

Congregation: "Horses!"
Dollar: "If dogs get together, they produce what?"
Congregation: "Dogs!"
Dollar: "If cats get together, they produce what?"
Congregation: "Cats!"
Dollar: "So if the Godhead says 'Let us make man in our image', and everything produces after its own kind, then they produce what?"
Congregation: "gods!"

Dollar: "gods. Little "g" gods. You're not human. Only human part of you is this flesh you're wearing."

This teaching has drawn the sharpest charges of heresy. Although The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), citing the Bible and the early Christian church, teaches that men can become gods after eons of exaltation, the LDS scholar Stephen E. Robinson has declared the "little gods" teaching heretical.[35][36] (The LDS view is also considered heretical by mainstream Christianity.) Many Evangelical critics have condemned the "little gods" teaching as cultic; Hank Hanegraaff, for example, contends the 'little gods' doctrine is on a par with the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Jim Jones.[37]

Critics, such as Christian apologist and CARM founder Matt Slick and Bible critique author W. Gary Phillips, believe referencing scriptures Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34, where it is said that men are gods, is using these Scriptures out of context.[38] These verses were originally addressed to the Judges of Israel, who they were called gods not because they were themselves divine, but because they pronounced the judgement of the true and only God. The Hebrew and Greek words used in both Scriptures for "gods" can also be applied to magistrates, and may be translated as "mighty".[39]

Jesus died spiritually belief

Jesus died spiritually (abbreviated JDS) is a view of the substitutionary atonement of Christ in which Jesus is considered to have suffered both physical death (on the cross) and spiritual death (in Hell) as the complete penalty for sin. In this view, spiritual death (defined as separation from God the father) is considered the ultimate penalty for original sin, and proponents assert that Jesus must have suffered the complete penalty for sin in order for his substitutionary sacrifice to be effective. Accordingly, those who support the JDS view also teach that Jesus was spiritually born again at his resurrection. Not all Word of Faith teachers believe this, rather preaching something similar to the Harrowing of Hell. The Word of Faith group does believe that the Harrowing of Hell was part of the plan of redemption, and that Jesus himself was never a sinner, but on the cross Jesus was forsaken by God the father as a payment for all sins.

E.W. Kenyon, a minister important to the Word of Faith movement and some other Pentecostal denominations, popularized the idea that Jesus died spiritually in his books What Happened From The Cross To the Throne and Identification: A Romance In Redemption. It is claimed that Kenneth E. Hagin taught JDS ideas but such citations are singletons taken out of context.[40] Kenneth Hagin mentioned Jesus harrowing hell in The Name of Jesus (1978 edition), which has caused many to believe that he supported JDS. Kenneth Copeland did claim that Jesus suffered in Hell, not that Christ's resurrection parallels the believer's born again experience. While it is not a central doctrine of the movement, it has received some condemnation for this belief. For example, D.R. McConnell claims the teaching to be heresy.[41]

See also

  • Full Gospel
  • Chris Oyakhilome
  • Abundant life
  • Margaret Court
  • Sam P. Chelladurai
  • Word of Faith Ministries
  • Word of Faith Fellowship

Bible passages

  1. Romans 12:2
  2. Matthew 11:25-30
  3. Galatians 5:1
  4. Mark 11:12-25
  5. Colossians 2
  6. Hebrews 6:1-2
  7. 1 Corinthians 3
  8. Galatians 3
  9. Romans 7:1-6
  10. Matthew 18:1-6
  11. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
  12. Matthew 17:14-20
  13. Matthew 20:1-16
  14. Matthew 8:5-18
  15. Matthew 25:14-30
  16. Luke 19:11-27
  17. 1 Corinthians 13
  18. Matthew 22:36-40
  19. John 21:15-19
  20. Matthew 16:13-20
  21. Matthew 6:5-14
  22. Matthew 7:15-23
  23. 1 John 4:6
  24. 2 Peter 2
  25. Jude
  26. 1 Corinthians 5
  27. Hebrews 11-13


Notes and references

  1. Ben Pugh, Bold Faith: A Closer Look at the Five Key Ideas of Charismatic Christianity (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 76.
  2. Word of Faith Statement of Faith, Christian forums, .
  3. Gilley, Gary E, The Word-Faith Movement, Rapid net, .
  4. Kenneth E. Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking, (Kenneth Hagin Ministries, 1966)
  5. Jerry Savelle, If Satan Can't Steal Your Joy..., (Harrison House, 1982)
  6. Creflo Dollar, True Prosperity v. False Prosperity,
  7. Understanding Chastisement, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, retrieved November 7, 2009. Subsection, "Knowing Your Enemy", paragraph 3
  8. Understanding Chastisement, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, retrieved November 7, 2009. Subsection "Does God Permit Bad Things to Happen to Us?
  9. Was Jesus Wealthy? Atlanta Journal Constitution 22 October 2006,
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jesus was not poor,
  11. "Was Jesus Rich". 
  12. John Avanzini, "Was Jesus Poor?" (videotape)
  13. ”Kenneth Copeland, How to Prosper from the Inside Out, Kenneth Copeland Ministries,
  14. "How We Help". 
  15. Denver Cheddie, Is Decree and Declare Scriptural?, Bible Issues,
  16. Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Faith, (KCP Publications, 1989)
  17. The Word-Faith Controversy, Watchman, .
  18. Farah, Charles (1979), From the Pinnacle of the Temple, Logos .
  19. "Walter Martin's Warning to the Church". Let Us Reason Ministries. 1988. 
  20. King, Paul L, A.B. Simpson & the Modern Faith Movement, Hope, faith, prayer, .
  21. Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, (Harvest House, 1993)
  22. "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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." Template:Biblesource.
  23. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort", Template:Biblesource.
  24. Template:Biblesource
  25. Kenneth E. Hagin, Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, (Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., 1989)
  26. Kenneth E. Hagin, "The Virgin Birth" in Word of Faith Magazine (December 1977)
  27. 27.0 27.1 E. W. Kenyon, The Father and His Family (Lynnwood, WA: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, 32nd printing, 1998 [1916, 1937]), p.34
  28. E. W. Kenyon, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, (Lynnwood, WA: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, 13th printing, 1969 [1945]), p.62.
  29. Kenneth E. Hagin, New Thresholds of Faith (Tulsa, OK: FLP, 2nd ed, 1985 [1972]), p. 56.
  30. Kenneth Copeland, "Following the Faith of Abraham", (teaching tape, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989)
  31. Kenneth Copeland, "The Force of Love", (Teaching tape, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987)
  32. Charles Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, (Harrison House, 1982)
  33. West Coast Believer's Convention 2006 Monday Morning Service 10:33-11:19
  34. "Suffer the Children". , a Trevor Glass film, 2006; retrieved April 25, 2008.
  35. Robinson, Stephen E., Are Mormons Christians? (ISBN:978-1570084096)
  36. Deification of Man - FairMormon
  37. Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, (Harvest House, 1992)
  38. Christian Apologists Bible Commentary, 9; retrieved May 15, 2008.
  39. Dictionary to the Hebrew Bible by James Strong, no. 430
  40. D.R. McConnell, A Different Gospel, updated edition, (Hendrickson, 1995), p117
  41. D.R. McConnell, A Different Gospel, updated edition, (Hendrickson, 1995), 114-131
  42. "Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages". 

External links