Word Faith Movement
Question: “Is the Word/Faith Movement Biblical?”
Answer: Word/Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical. It is not a denomination, and does not have a formal organization or hierarchy. Instead, it is a movement that is heavily influenced by a number of high-profile pastors and teachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Fred Price.
The Word/Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the latter 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it claim it” originated) fit well with the emerging Pentecostal movement and its emphasis on the supernatural, so he combined them and created a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin in turn studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word/Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word/Faith teachers align themselves with.
At the heart of the Word/Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will and that God Himself is subject to these laws. From here, its theology just strays further and further from Scripture: It claims that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as little gods. Before the fall, humans had the potential to call things into existence by using the faith-force. After the fall, humans took on Satan’s nature and lost the ability to call things into existence. In order to correct this situation, Jesus Christ gave up His divinity and became a man, died spiritually, took Satan’s nature upon Himself, went to hell, was born-again, and rose from the dead with God’s nature. After this, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to replicate the Incarnation in believers so they could become little gods as God had originally intended.
Following the natural progression of these teachings, as little gods we again have the ability to manipulate the faith-force and become prosperous in all areas of life. Illness, sin, and failure are the result of a lack of faith, and are remedied by confession–claiming God’s promises for oneself into existence. Simply put, the Word/Faith movement exalts man to god-status and reduces God to man-status. Needless to say, this is a false representation of what Christianity is all about. Obviously, Word/Faith teaching does not take into account what is found in Scripture. Personal revelation is highly relied upon in order to come up with such absurd beliefs, which is just one more thing counted unbiblical
Countering Word/Faith teaching is a simple matter of reading the Bible. God alone is the Sovereign Creator of the Universe (Genesis 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:15), and does not need faith–He is the object of faith (Mark 11:22; Hebrews 11:3). God is spirit, and does not have a physical body (John 4:24). Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27; 9:6), but this does not make him a little god nor divine. Only God has a divine nature (Galatians 4:8; Isaiah 1:6-11, 43:10, 44:6; Ezekiel 28:2; Psalms 8:6-8). Christ is Eternal, the Only Begotten Son, and the only incarnation of God (John 1:1, 2, 15; 1:14, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:1). In Him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). By becoming a man Jesus gave up the glory of heaven but not His divinity (Philippians 2:6-7) though He did choose to withhold His power while walking the earth as man.
- the sovereignty of God
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.
- God—the OBJECT of faith
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
- God is a spirit
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
- God made man in his own image but only God has a divine nature
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness–
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with oil.
7 Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
8 The Daughter of Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a field of melons,
like a city under siege.
9 Unless the LORD Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices–
what are they to me?” says the LORD.
- the sovereignty of God
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed–
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?
6 “This is what the LORD says–
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
2 “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“‘In the pride of your heart
you say, “I am a god;
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”
18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 4:11
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
- Jesus the divine
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
The Word/Faith movement is deceiving countless people, causing them to grasp after a way of life and faith that is not biblical. Our hope is in the Lord, not in our own words, not even in our own faith (Psalm 33:20-22). Our faith comes from God in the first place (2 Peter 1:1), and is not something we create for ourselves. So, be wary of the Word of Faith movement, and any church that aligns itself with Word of Faith teachings.
- Our faith is not in our words
20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
- Our faith comes from God
2 Peter 1:1
1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Recommended Resource: Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff.