Worship Notes

"Defending the Word-Faith Movement" - Part 1

(Click here for Part 2)

I was surfing the internet today and visited a couple of sites that are dedicated to exposing the "error" and the "heresy" of the Word-Faith movement. What I read angered me as I saw many well-known and reputable preachers mis-quoted, misinterpreted, and mis-represented. I'm not going to post their web addresses because I don't believe that they deserve the extra traffic to their site.

There are several ministries out there that spend the vast, vast majority of their time doing nothing but trying to discredit other ministries. They spend an inordinant amount of time trying to draw people away from the Word-Faith message. Draw them to what, I don't know. Because they typically don't spend much time telling people what they should believe...but they do spend a lot of time telling people what not to believe. In other words, they don't spend much time teaching doctrine, they just spend time trying to discredit other doctrines.

As I read these articles, it occurred to me that I rarely (if ever) see Word-Faith ministers trying to discredit their discreditors. Unlike their discreditors, they don't put out publications or web pages or radio broadcasts or television time naming the names of these people in order to defend the attacks on their ministries. And I believe I know why. It's because they are confident in what they believe. They don't believe that they have any reason to bring attention to someone whose sole purpose in life seems to be in trying to draw people from the Word-Faith message.

I am glad that these ministries are confident enough in what they believe that they don't feel the need to try to defend themselves to a bunch of close-minded people who will probably only twist their defense anyway. But at the same time, I think that something needs to be said on their behalf. And as I was contemplating on who should be the one to say that "something", I realized that I have my own web site and I can do it myself. And even though my site isn't very big, I hope to at least make some people think.

Firstly, let me explain that our Covenant is a covenant based on faith. We are saved by grace through faith, and everything we receive under this new covenant is received the same way. These anti-Word-Faith ministries will tell you that this is false doctrine, but most of the time they don't bother explaining why it's false doctrine. Most of the time, these are people that simply have never put faith and the Word of God into practice for themselves. They will say that they have, but they haven't...because I can tell you that faith works every time.

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man achieves results. And if someone didn't achieve the result they were after, something was done incorrectly. Either they didn't pray effectually, or fervently, or in faith, or according to God's Word, or something else...but just because you didn't get the result you were after doesn't mean that the Word-Faith Movement is heresy. It means that you need to ask God and study the Word to find out what is hindering your result. But in more cases than not, these people haven't even bothered with ever trying to put faith to work in their lives.

These kinds of people remind me of the brother to the prodigal son who was "nigh" to the house (not "in" the house) while they celebrated the prodigal's return. Perhaps if the brother would have joined the party, he wouldn't have become so bitter. But he was content to remain outside of the party and criticize what was going on inside. My advice for such is, "Don't knock it 'til you've tried it". Most of these people would rather mock the Word-Faith people rather than actually try it for themselves. It's a shame that many of these people will never know the hope, the joy, and the results that Word-Faith people walk in.

Now, let me explain some things that are commonly alleged by these Word-Faith discreditors:

1) Accusation: They say, erroneously, that Word-Faith people think they are "little gods".

Explanation: Word-Faith preachers (Kenneth Copeland, in particular) have been quoted as saying this, but were misinterpreted in what they truly meant. Kenneth Copeland does not believe that we are "gods" in the sense that we deserve worship, can create the universe, etc. What he is saying is that we have been given authority by God Himself to be His representatives on earth. And that, as His representatives, we have the ability to walk above the curse in the earth by faith and to exercise that Authority by carrying out His Will in the earth. The earth is subject to the Kingdom of God, and believers in particular. We don't have to ask God's permission to carry out His Will. He already gave us that Authority. We have authority in the earth, because God gave it to us.

2) Accusation: They say, erroneously, that Word-Faith people don't think that God is sovereign. Furthermore they say, erroneously, that Word-Faith people don't think that God can whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it.

Explanation: The problem here is the definition of sovereignty. Webster's defines it as, "having supreme authority". These discreditors say that the Sovereignty of God means that God can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it. They further say that Word-Faith people don't believe that.

Word-Faith people do believe in the Sovereignty of God. But they also know that there are certain things that God, in His Sovereignty, will never do...and certain things that God will always do. For example, God will never lie. This doesn't mean that He is less sovereign because He can't lie. It simply means that He has chosen to never say anything false. In a similar manner, God has chosen, in His Sovereignty, to give dominion over this earth to man. Therefore it is up to us, as believers, to be ambassadors of His Will in the earth.

This is why Jesus instructed us to pray, "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Because God, in His Sovereign Will, gave dominion of the earth to man, it is only through man that His Will is accomplished on the earth. His perfect Will is already established in heaven. But authority over the earth has been man's, by God's design, ever since He gave it to Adam. If he took back that authority, He would make Himself a liar. And since He will never lie, we know that His Will on earth is accomplished through men. This is why men are commissioned to spread the gospel, not angels, and not God Himself...because God, in His Sovereignty, designed it that way.

God, through His Sovereign Will, has decided to put man in charge of this planet. That is why earth is in the shape that it is in, because man has dominion over it. God exercises His Will and Power through men. This does not make Him less sovereign. It actually makes Him more sovereign, because it demonstrates that He has the ability to make a sovereign decision and stick with it. God can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it. But He will always do it through men, because that is the way He designed it, according to His Sovereign Authority and Will.

3) Accusation: They say, erroneously, that Word-Faith people are going to hell.

Explanation: This is the result of a Scripture in Galatians 1 that says "If any man preach any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed". If you read the whole book, Paul was saying to the Galatians that they had strayed from a gospel of salvation by grace through faith, to a doctrine of salvation by works. However, many of these Word-Faith discreditors are apparently using this verse to say that anyone who doesn't have an error-free doctrine is accursed and therefore going to hell.

Let me be frank. There is error in my doctrine. And there is error in your doctrine. And there is error in their doctrine. Paul himself said that we "know in part". If perfect doctrine were a prerequisite for salvation, we would all be hopeless! This does not mean that we should not strive for the truth. But it does mean that God's grace is far greater than any error we may have in our doctrine. Paul told the Galatians that any man who does not preach salvation by grace through faith is accursed. And, of course, Paul was right...because that is the only was we achieve salvation. It is not by works, nor by circumcision, as Paul clearly addressed in his epistle to the Galatians.

4) Accusation: They say, erroneously, that Word-Faith preachers are only interested in money.

Explanation: This is extremely ironic because some of these discreditors are making hundreds of thousands of dollars from books, tapes, and videos which criticize other ministries for the amount of money they bring in. They preach that Christians don't have the right to be prosperous, while at the same time they're living in huge houses and driving European cars.

Jesus Himself talked about sowing and reaping more than anything else in his parables. More than 50% of his parables addressed the subject of sowing and reaping. There is absolutely NO biblical basis for the "doctrine" of poverty. God does want us to prosper, and the device that God has instituted to channel that prosperity to us is the tithe and offering. The fact that these ministers want Christians to be prosperous through the institution of tithing and offering is a source of extreme ridicule, because people always seem to think that there are ulterior motives involved.

Many of these ministries have won literally tens of thousands of people to the Lord, and some have won many more. The money that comes into their ministries grants them influence and assets not available to people with less money. The fact that they own their own jet, or drive a Jaguar shouldn't offend someone who knows that there are far more people all over the world who are better off because of the ministry they have received through Word-Faith preachers.

Television time costs a lot of money. Crusades to Africa and Asia cost a lot of money. So it should not surprise people that these ministries see tens of millions of dollars pass through their hands every year. Nor should it surprise anyone that a CEO of an organization of that size makes 6 digits a year (or more, for that matter). It shouldn't matter that the CEO is a preacher. The fact is that millions of lives around the globe are being touched and reached with the gospel. That's worth more than a few bucks.

5) Accusation: They say, erroneously, that just because a few people have received miracles, doesn't mean that everyone can have theirs as well.

Explanation: This too is ironic because these discreditors will actually admit that people have received miracles as a result of these ministries...but they won't admit that it is available for all. My question for them is this...if we don't have the right to miracles and healing, how did ANY of these people receive their miracle? The discreditor can't discredit the legitimate healing, but they won't lower their pride enough to acknowledge that faith actually worked.

Summary: The bottom line is that I'm sure that all of these people have the best motives, Word-Faith and non-Word-Faith alike. I believe that both want the best for Christians. I believe that they both desire to minister the Gospel in the fullness of its truth. And I know that both the Word-Faith ministries and the discreditors have brought many souls into the Kingdom of God.

But the biggest difference I've found is that Word-Faith ministries don't waste their time trying to cause division in the Body of Christ by naming the names of ministries they don't agree with. And they also spend more time trying to teach doctrine, minister help, and win souls; and less time trying to discredit other doctrines. Jesus did the same thing, by the way.