Words, Faith and Prosperity – Part 1

Today I’m going to be posting up the the first part of my notes from the fourth and final talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference.  That talk was about the Prosperity Gospel.  Today, I’m going to be posting the notes about the Word of Faith movement and how it sets the theological stage for the Prosperity Gospel.

I hope to make things clear and I want to help people understand the theology (as best I can) of the Prosperity Gospel.  Just to be clear, not all people in Word of Faith circles believe or teach the Prosperity Gospel.  Jim Bakker is a prime example of someone who holds to Word of Faith theology but doesn’t take it to the extent of embracing the Prosperity Gospel (and in the 1980’s he was the prince of Prosperity Gospel preachers; it’s amazing what a decade alone with a Bible in prison will do for a person…).  Sadly, Jim Bakker doesn’t speak for all people who are part of the Word of Faith Movement.

Prosperity

That being said, the Prosperity Gospel doesn’t really make much sense outside of a Word of Faith framework, though I’m well aware that there are people peddling the Prosperity Gospel in many churches that aren’t part of Word of Faith denominations or organizations. Still, I’d actually suggest that the Word of Faith Movement isn’t much better than the Prosperity Gospel.  My research will help you understand why I’ve come to that conclusion.

Here are the notes:

WORDS, FAITH and PROSPERITY

– We’re talking about the theological dark side of the Renewal.

– Sadly, this has also become the main face of the Renewal, at least globally speaking.

– Oral Roberts University is a stronghold of prosperity gospel, and the New Apostolic Reformation is a prosperity gospel movement.

– As in all movements, there is a wide variety of diversity.

– People in this movement certainly associate with one another, but if one person in the movement teaches some bizarre heresy, the rest will simply dismiss the heresy as an aberration and claim to have no clue what you’re talking about.

Burgundy

-Still, I’m going to offer some simple definitions, a brief summary of their teaching, and some biblical refutation of the twisting of their key proof-texts (in the next post).

– So here’s some broad categories:

A. Word of Faith:

– This is the theological framework that is foundational to, but not identical with, the Prosperity Gospel.

– This is, to sum it up succinctly, a belief in “Christian magic”; I call it ChristCraft (magic performed in the name of Jesus).

1. The main idea is that the universe operates to divine law:

Robert Tilton – “The sinner is the person who doesn’t know how to operate in spiritual laws.” (The Power To Create Wealth, 29)

Oral Roberts talks about how the law of sowing and reaping is an unchanging, eternal law. (The Seed-Faith Commentary on the Holy Bible, 12)

Jerry Savelle writes,

“For you to never experience financial increase in your walk with God is a violation of spiritual laws. There is absolutely no way you can walk with God, keep His covenant, and not experience financial increase.” (Increase God’s Way, 16)

2. God himself is subject to divine law, as is Satan.

WOF teachers portray the world as victim to a power struggle between God and Satan due to divine law:

One picture.  So much theological confusion.

One picture. So much theological confusion.

Frederick K.C. Price says,

“Adam handed over all authority over the earth to Satan with his act of rebellion-disobedience. The dominion of the earth passed, in order, from God to Adam to Satan. For God to legally act in this world, He has to act through mankind, who were originally given dominion.” (Prosperity: Good News for God’s People, 70)

Paul Yonggi Cho says that the starting point of prosperity theology is to recognize that God is good and wants to bless you, but the Devil is the one who steals and destroys. Jesus came so that we might have life and abundance. (Salvation, Health & Prosperity: Our Threefold Blessing in Christ, 12).

3. The law revolves around thinking, words & faith:

Words are expressions of thinking and containers of power:

Joyce Meyer says,

“Words are so awesome. Words are containers for power. They carry either creative power or destructive power. For example, in my conferences I speak words, and those who hear those words receive life – life in their relationships, in their ministries and in all kinds of areas that God uses me to speak to them about.

“Jesus said that his words are spirit, and they are life.  But people can also speak death to you by speaking things that put a heaviness on you.

“Proverbs 18:21 is a Scripture that I am very familiar with, but I always get blessed by it every time I read it.  As we saw, it talks about death and life being in the power of the tongue and how those who indulge in it will eat its fruit, either for death or for life.” (Eight Ways to Keep the Devil Under Your Feet, 87-88).

Lisa Comes (Joel Osteen’s older sister, and the actual bible teacher at Lakewood Church) says

“When you plant the Word of God IN YOUR HEART—you begin to think like God thinks.” and “When you speak the Word out of YOUR MOUTH in faith—you agree with God—and it shall be done! (Armed And Dangerous! Part II.  Online)

Oral Roberts said that the roof of Job’s problem was that “He became negative in his thinking and believing and filled his mind with fear. He doubted God’s goodness.” (Deliverance from Fear and From Sickness, 11)

The power behind words is faith and that power can be used positively or negatively.

Props to whoever gets this reference without having to use a search engine!

Props to whoever gets this reference without having to use a search engine!

David Yonggi Cho writes,

“Faith is like a gear in a car. When the car is in forward gear, the car moves forward. But when the car is in reverse, it moves backward with the same power. Likewise, if you believe that God is a good God, success will come to you; if you do not believe that God is a good God, you will encounter fear, unrest and despair. Your faith can be positive or negative. It is up to you.” (Salvation, Health & Prosperity: Our Threefold Blessing in Christ, 15)

Kenneth Hagin says,

“It is not the storms of life that defeat you. It is not the devil who defeats you. If you are defeated, you have defeated yourself by your wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong talking.” (You Can Have What You Say, 8)

T.D. Jakes writes,

“The power to get wealth is in your tongue. You shall have whatever you say. SO if you keep sitting around murmuring, groaning, and complaining, you use your tongue against yourself. You speech can keep you bent over and crippled. You may be destroying yourself with your words.” (Woman Thou Art Loosed, 146).

4. The law involves a strange version of “faith”.

Some say that faith is actually some sort of spiritual matter (substance).

Creflo Dollar comments on Hebrews 11:1 and writes,

“The next remarkable thing these verses teach us about faith is that it is a ‘substance.’ ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for…’ In other words, faith is a literal, unseen material. It is ‘stuff.’ ” (The Divine Order Of Faith, 8)

Others say that faith is some sort of impersonal force:

Kenneth Copeland writes,

“In the reborn human spirit there are four major forces. There is inborn in your spirit the force of faith and underneath the force of faith is the force of patience. This is an important force, and you could almost say that it is the fifth major force. Actually the force of patience is an integral part of the force of faith. In the New Testament they are always coupled together, patience and faith, patience and faith, patience and faith. They are the power twins. Next is the force of righteousness, then the force of wisdom, and last is the force of love.” (The Force Of Faith, 10).

...Well, your pastor is right Anakin.  Midichlorians ARE faith...

…Well, your pastor is right Anakin.  Midichlorians ARE faith…

Either way all beings, including God, utilize the material/force called “faith”:

Kenneth Copeland also writes, “God is a faith being. You are born of God. You are a faith being. God does not do anything outside of faith.” (The Force Of Faith, 16-17)

Frederick K.C. Price says, “Our God is a faith God. Whatever He does is done through faith.” (Prosperity: Good News for God’s People, 23)

Faith is produced in people when they hear (and believe) the word of God.

Kenneth Hagin comments on Romans 10:17 and says, “God has also told us how to obtain faith” (Exceedingly Growing Faith, 11).  Quite literally, when a person hears the Bible read or quoted aloud, that produces the substance of faith in them.

5. Words are what releases and directs the power of faith.

Kenneth Copeland says,

“The force of faith is released by words. Faith-filled words put the law of the spirit of life into operation. Faith-filled words dominate the laws of death and its forces ruled by Satan since the fall of Adam.” (The Force Of Faith, 18)

Joseph Prince says,

“Perhaps you are suffering a sickness that doctors say you have to be on long-term medication for and your heart’s desire is to be healed. Or maybe you have a debt that you need to pay off. These are needs that God has taken care of through Jesus’ perfect work at the cross. So instead of talking about how bad the situation is, start speaking life into your situation. Say, “Sickness, be plucked out by your roots and be gone from my body in Jesus’ name! By Jesus’ stripes I am healed!” Instead of worrying about your debt, say, “I call my debt supernaturally cancelled in Jesus’ name. My God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory!” If you want to see good days, then keep your tongue from speaking unbelief, and release the power and life of the Lord through your mouth into your situation!”

This time, Mr. Potter, I won't forget the

This time, Mr. Potter, I won’t forget the “in Jesus name” part!

-The Word of Faith Movement has a strange and mechanistic understanding of God, law, and faith.

When the Word of Faith theology first appeared, it was only applied to physical healing.

Word of Faith theology, when applied to money, gives you the Prosperity Gospel.

B. Prosperity Gospel:

1. The application of Word of Faith teaching, specifically the law of sowing and reaping and the law of tithing, to health and finances.

F.F. Bosworth, who preached for William Branham, taught in 1947 what Charles Cullis did in 1887: the word of God is the “seed” that one plants and the thing that is “reaped” is physical healing.

– Oral Roberts changed the “seed” from being the word of God to money, but the “reaping” was still physical healing.

Frederick K.C. Price talks about all the lies that the Devil has spread regarding health and poverty and writes,

“We didn’t get a change in these deceptions until some fifty years ago, when Oral Roberts first broke through into mainstream Christianity by emphasizing the healing promised to believers through our new covenant. Once ministers started to look at healing and began to see that it was indeed a promise – something all Christians had a right to – they began to look for other rights under our covenant. Only then did you start to see people discovering that prosperity on God’s terms was one of those rights.” (Prosperity: Good News for God’s People, 131)

-Then, all that one had to do is notice that “like produces like” in Genesis 1

– Plants with seed produce after their own kind, and you take this as some sort of universal principle.

– If you sow money, you’ll reap money.

I don't think this is what the hymn

I don’t think this is what the hymn “Showers of Blessing” was originally talking about…

2. New Apostolic Reformation Churches also are all prosperity gospel churches.

C. Peter Wagner comments on their distinctive beliefs about money and says,

“First, generous giving is expected. Tithing is taught without apology, and those who do not tithe their incomes are subtly encouraged to evaluate their Christians lives as subpar.

Second, giving is beneficial, not only to the church and its ministry in the kingdom of God, but also to the giver. Tithes and offerings are regarded as seeds that will produce fruit of like kind for individuals and families. Luke 6:38, which says that if we give, it will be given to us in greater measure, is taken literally.” (The New Apostolic Churches: Rediscovering the New Testament Model of Leadership and Why It Is God’s Desire for the Church Today, 23-24)

The “Faith Healer” T.L Osborn writes, “Faith is believing that God will do what you know that He has said in His Word He would do. Faith is believing that God didn’t tell a lie.

He’s likely more right than he knows.

Sadly, the Word of Faith folk and the Prosperity Preachers (which are basically the same folks) are trusting in lies.

In our next post, I’ll prove that when walk through a handful of the key supporting texts and examine what the Bible actually says regarding these issues.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “To the Scriptures!” Unger

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14 thoughts on “Words, Faith and Prosperity – Part 1

  1. Thanks for putting up these notes. Just a quick fix that your spill cheek didn’t ketch, under point B. 1. you have sewing where you mean sowing.

  2. Do you think Jim Bakker has changed, or is it the same package with a different bow? He is back on TV peddling survival kits. Just caught one of his shows with His guest Rick Joyner. Jim introduced him as his “favourite” prophet. Mr. Joyner is also one of Jimmy Bakkers board of directors.

    • He has openly rejected the Prosperity Gospel, buy he still peddles word of faith ideas.

      He’s gone from being a “Defcon 5” heretic to a “Defcon 4” maybe?

      He’s by no means some sort of historically orthodox Protestant.

  3. I’ll be interested if you come up with this one, but you can disprove word of faith using one verse, which imo shows Satan attacking scripture by distorting it to say the opposite of what was intended:

    “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear”.

    This has been twisted to mean ‘we understand that God created the world by faith’ – and they go on to add that this faith was expressed in words, words having intrinsic power. God said and it happened. So we too can speak and things happen.

    The real faith here is trusting that when God tells us he created the heavens and the earth, we believe him. It is a reflection of our thinking, not a kind of force.

    As someone living on the other side of the Atlantic, but has had some exposure to word of faith and similar doctrines imported via paperbacks into the UK, it strikes me as being nothing more than the American Dream dressed up as religion. Instead of hard work and enterprise making you rich, God does if you know how to tap into his resources.

  4. Good stuff Lyndon. I have no idea how you edited all this down. Each post leaves me with a dozen things I want to know more about.

    IMO the most interesting tidbit here was about the NAR. I had not connected them to WOF/prosperity theology before. I’d always thought of them as kind of incorruptible kook types who were more interested in the gloooo-raaayyyy then money.

    • Yeah, I hear you. I was actually shocked at how openly Peter Wagner was about the connection, and how each of the main NAR lights was was definitely endorsing of Prosperity Theology, though none of them make it the main focus in the way guys like Fred Price or Creflo Dollar do.

  5. Pingback: Quick Thoughts: The Church of the Highlands and Chris Hodges | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

  6. Something to think on…
    God’s way has always been through death ressurrection. A principal even His Son was not exempt. Neither shall his chosen nation or for that matter The church. Deception has its opportunity when men have scant ability to bear things of an apolytic kind and want to believe for a good thing. Deception comes to those who are unwilling to consider the cross and suffering.

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