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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007
Word Faith.
No, that is not some Ebonic, it is a doctrinal label that identifies a radical subset of the charismatic movement. I hope to give a very brief and easily understood description of this movement in the paragraphs that follow.

Word-Faith preachers have a confused understanding of what faith is, and perhaps the best way to examine what they believe is to first examine what true faith is. True faith is assured by the character of God that what He promises He will bring to pass. Such a trust is impossible for the flesh to produce, that is, there is nothing in us that is able to trust God to keep His promises - we are dead in our sins, and because we are dead in our sins we are unable to trust God until God intervenes on our behalf. This intervention comes in the form of grace - we receive grace by which we are able to repent of our treasonous and rebellious rejection of God and His promises, and are enabled to instead see God as trustworthy, see ourselves as lost and in need of redemption, and to appropriate that redemption from God by faith in His promise to redeem as many as repent and turn to Him and to Him alone for that redemption. We call that "faith." It is a work of God in us to make us not only trust His word, but also to seek to be reconciled. That is what scripture means when it teaches that though we were dead in our sins, God made us alive. Faith therefore is a God enabled certainty that God will keep His promises.

Word-Faith preachers teach that faith is your ability to believe. It doesn't matter what the object of your belief is, since faith in this scheme is a commodity that you possess as an ability to make yourself believe something is true. It doesn't matter what you believe in this model because faith itself is a commodity that we manipulate to our advantage, and that this is (in this model) the whole purpose of faith - it is some external power that we can tap into by believing hard enough - such that when we do we can harness it and use it to bring about our own will in the world.

Which bring us to the next tenet of this movement - a confusion about what it means to be a Christian. In the WF movement they teach that when you are born again you become a partaker of God's divinity such that you possess the power in yourself to do all things divine should you learn how to tap into it. You aren't part of the Trinity per se, but you are a partaker of the incarnation such that you have access to all the power of God through the power of faith.

Which brings us to the next tenet of this movement - positive confession. Since you have all the power of God, that makes you as much a creator as God is Creator. Thus, just as God is able to speak things into being, so too, you as a little creator are able to speak things into being. This particular teaching breeds a lot of superstitious nonsense, as the teaching goes that you must speak only positive things so that they will come to pass, and never speak negative things, lest you inadvertently unleash the creative power of your words to bring about whatever calamity you happen to mention.

Of course, mixed in with this movement is the idea that Jesus died so that you would never have a cold again, that is, God punished "sickness" on the cross so that believers should no longer be sick. We call that "healing in the atonement" - and it is loosely based upon the cherry picking of the verse we find in Isaiah 53:5 - by his stripe we are healed. Healed of what? Sin? Apparently not - they believe that God punished Christ on Calvary in order that we might be able to be healthy all the time.

Were that not enough, this teaching also believes that Jesus and the Apostles were all filthy rich, and that this was God's intent for all of us - that God wants us all to be rich, and that Christ even died for that purpose too: to make us healthy and wealthy.

Faith in this movement is a power that we possess by virtue of our divinity and by which we appropriate all the goodies that God wants us to have. Anyone who is sick is sick because of their faithlessness, and also because all sickness is considered demonic. Anyone who is poor is poor because of their faithlessness, and maybe that is demonic too, a demon of poverty must be possessing you. Anyone who cannot do miracles (or receive them) is hindered because they lack faith, or perhaps because they have a demon that is not allowing them to do miracles etc.

The heart of this false teaching is the notion that the reason your faith isn't working is because there is something wrong with you, and the way to overcome this wrongness is to take steps of faith, which inevitably means giving more money to the local church.

People fall for this because the music programs are great, and because pretty much anything goes - God loves you baby, and right now he is bending over backwards to pour out health, wealth, and really whatever your heart desires - but you are hindering all that by not believing enough. The lure is that if you could just convince yourself, you could have it all. Likewise, since most of the churches who teach this are way out in the charismatic fringe (as opposed to more conservative charismatics), you have pretty much everything and anything being sold as a "spiritual" experience, and you cannot question a spiritual experience.

It is not unlike the leper who goes to the doctor and no matter how many symptoms he complains about, the doctor continues to tell the fellow that it is all in his head - that if he could just convince himself that he is well, the symptoms would go away. When a limb rots away, it only shows that the fellow wasn't really trying hard enough - since it is clear that the doctor isn't rotting away, so it must be a matter of the patient not being willing to be healed.

Don't imagine for a second that Word-Faith teaching is just another flavor of the same old Christianity - it is deriving superstitions from scripture verses for the purpose of fleecing the flock.

If you know someone who is trapped in this garbage, ask them why they don't go to the hospital and heal everyone - if they say that their faith isn't strong enough, then ask them how they can be sure they are saved, since the evidence would suggest that they haven't enough faith for that either.


posted by Daniel @ 9:54 AM  
  • At 11:51 AM, October 18, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    My mom and sister are mired in this stuff.

  • At 12:23 PM, October 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel, excellent, excellent piece. I'ma gonna print it. :)

    I have some friends who are just on the verge, you know?

    "Speaking life"

    "Claiming" this or that.

    Speaking to diseases or affirmities.

    What a frustrating life to have to be the one responsible to bring it all to pass.


  • At 12:29 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    That little Charismatic church I got saved at is still into this stuff.

  • At 1:57 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    You know Daniel, the sad part is that they are using all the right verses in all the wrong ways.

    This unfortunately leads many on the conversative intellectual side to reject anything that smells of walking by faith in favor of concrete rationalism.

    Living by faith is really the core of the Christian life; "For we walk by faith and not by sight."

    It is for this reason I believe the devil wishes to distort and misalign what it means to really live a life of faith.

    We should always exercise caution whenever the gifts of God are being used to promise personal earthly blessings.

    Thanks for this insightful analysis.

  • At 2:05 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger jazzycat said…

    I guess this would also include the "name it and claim it" teaching of some of the Pentecostals.

  • At 2:07 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Wayne - usually these are one and the same. Where you find the one, you find the other lurking about. What you don't find however is a high view of God's holiness, a right view of man's sinfulness, and a solid understanding of what it really means to follow Christ. When these people count the cost, they think they are writing their own paycheck.

  • At 3:07 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger donsands said…

    My brother was healed by Benny Hinn of his depression, by just saying Jesus, seven times in a row.

    I told my brother Benny wasn't filled with Holy Spirit, but was full of balony.
    We haven't spoke too much for the past 11 years. He's become so that whatever he thinks, that this thought is God speaking to him.
    So if I argue with him, and he's disagreeing with me, then God is saying I'm wrong.

    He said that if anyone disagrees with him, then they are full of pride.

    Where do i go from there?

    I love my brother, he is ten years my elder.
    And people like Copeland and Hagin and Hinn have deceived many.

    Thanks for wrting such an excellent post.

  • At 4:17 PM, October 18, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, that is just tragic about your brother. I know another fellow who is so convinced that every stray thought he has is either from God or from Satan. That kind off wacky won't come off with just soap and water. It takes real spiritual conviction the kind that only truth and grace can provide.

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