Word of Faith: A Trinity of Errors
One of the most sickening things to happen to Christianity is the infiltration of the Word of Faith Movement. Those that adhere to this “theology” follow the most extreme of heretical doctrines. Word of Faith preachers are commonly seen on TV and many have amassed a large group of followers. How people are so naive as to buy into their beliefs is beyond me. Generally speaking they teach that God wants his people to be healthy, wealthy, and happy all the time, and that if you say the right words (I mean literally speak in the correct “formula”), in faith, then God is obligated to deliver. God is approached as some sort of Cosmic Genie in a bottle.
The Word of Faith (WOF) movement is false and twists Scripture in order to support their erroneous views and to continue enriching the Word of Faith leaders themselves. Many of them live in mansions, wear expensive designer clothes, drive the most prestigious vehicles, and some even have private jets. The teachers rationalize their lavish, wasteful lifestyles as being “proof” that the Word of Faith teachings are true.
Word of Faith is not an actual denomination nor does it have a rigid set standard or doctrinal creed or statement. Beliefs differ somewhat from teacher to teacher, but the vast majority profess that children of God have a “right” to the good things in life. All they have to do is believe and ask God correctly for what they want. Entire books have been written on the movement and the heresy and blasphemy taught within. I highly recommend Hank Hanegraaff’s “Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century,” John MacArthur’s “Charismatic Chaos” and “Strange Fire.” With this brief article I have narrowed it down to three of their main errors, a “trinity” of errors if you will.
The First False Teaching: Words are Encapsulated with Power
Literal words have actual power contained within them. That’s why people often refer to them as “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it.” WOF teachers will quote a verse like Matthew 11:24, emphasizing only the belief aspect of it: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (NIV).
The Bible, however, teaches that God’s will determines the answer to our prayers:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27, NIV).
Since God is a loving heavenly Father He gives us what is BEST for us, and only He is truly able of knowing precisely what that is. Numerous faithful Christians have prayed for healing from illness, disease, or disability and have remained unhealed. The leaders of this movement blame this fact on the one seeking God and praying for healing. They will claim something must be “in the way” of their prayer; their faith is not “strong” enough; or some other lame excuse. It’s ironic to note that many of those same Word of Faith preachers who claim healing is merely a prayer away are forced to wear eyeglasses, get cavities filled, and visit their doctors. It’s both hypocritical and potentially harmful to teach such nonsense.
False Teaching Number Two: God Wants Everyone to be Rich
Financial prosperity is a common thread among Word of Faith teachers, which has caused some to call their movement, or at least this part of their movement, the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth gospel.”
Adherents claim that God is not only willing, but He is eager and excited to shower His worshipers with money, health, job promotions, large homes, and brand new cars, quoting verses like Malachi 3:10 in an attempt to validate their belief:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (NIV).
There is a huge problem with this though. Among other things, the Bible contains numerous passages WARNING against the pursuit of money instead of God, such as 1 Timothy 6:9-11:
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people 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” (NIV).
Hebrews 13:5 warns us against always wanting more, which WOF clearly endorses:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (NIV).
Wealth is not a sign of favor from God. The idea is simply ridiculous even at first glance. Many drug dealers, corrupt businessmen, and pornographers are extremely wealthy. And on the other side of the coin, millions of hardworking, honest, earnest Christians are poor and left wanting.
False Teaching Number Three: We are all Little Gods
I know, I know, you’re thinking there’s no way they can be this stupid. Well, they are. They teach that human beings are not only created in the image of God but literally are “little gods.” They teach that people are capable of controlling a “faith force,” reminiscent of Star Wars and “may the force be with you,” and have the power to actually bring their desires into being. They quote John 10:34 as their proof text:
“Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are ‘gods”” (NIV)?
This Word of Faith teaching is blatant idolatry, it’s straight forward blasphemy. For starters, Jesus was quoting Psalm 82, which referred to judges as “gods”; Jesus was stating that HE was above judges as the Son of God.
Some of them even take it a step further and say that God is a man. In fact, Kenneth Copeland claims to have seen and spoke with God. He even goes on to describe God by giving an approximation of his height, weight, and hand width.
Christians believe there is only one God, in three Persons, the Trinity. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit but are in no way, shape, or form little gods. God is the Creator; humans are His creations. To attribute any type of divine power to humanity is explicitly unbiblical.*
*Article adapted from “3 Word of Faith Errors” by Jack Vazada on christianity.about.com.
[Contributed by Dr. Jeff Hagan, President at True Grace Ministries and Theological Institute]