"The Other Side"
© Stuart St.John
What would you say, I wonder, if you were told that there is a teaching sweeping through evangelical churches in our day that not only has made changes to, but has also taken out the very core of the Gospel and replaced it with a fake?
Such is the message being propagated by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Charles Capps, Fred Price, Robert Tilton, Doyle "Buddy" Harrison and Ray McCauley. (These people have international followings numbering thousands, several having their own TV broadcasts.) Many believers who see these ministries at a distance know that something is not right about them, but most see them as the Gospel plus healing and prosperity on demand.
Research carried out in 1994 among a number of Christians from many different backgrounds has confirmed this. Almost 100% held this idea that the `Faith' message was only the Gospel plus. None had any idea of the extent of its error. In fact, a certain well-informed Baptist pastor expressed real surprise when he read what Kenneth Copeland teaches about the Creation, Fall, and Redemption of man. "I never knew it was this bad," he said. "...This is sheer heresy." You might think it a fair question to ask whether these `Faith' teachers themselves are aware that they are teaching anything other than the historic, Biblical Gospel. After all, you could say, all of us make mistakes at times - maybe they're just a little confused about what happened on the Cross. But the following comment from Copeland's tape "What happened from the Cross to the Throne" indicates clearly his thinking that traditional Christianity has covered up his beliefs in `traditional church teaching': "Tonight I want to show you some things from the Word of God . . . It's very little talked about, almost non-existent in traditional church teaching . . . because it's been covered up and hidden in tradition... The thing that's necessary for the life of a Christian is knowledge of what happened from the cross to the throne, what took place in the three days and three nights."
So, then, we see that far from being a misunderstanding of what happened at the Cross, Copeland has uncovered a previously `hidden' teaching (what the `Faith' movement terms `Revelation knowledge') which you will see presents us with another `Jesus' and `another gospel'. The quotes which follow are all from Kenneth Copeland:
"This man [Jesus] is a carbon copy of the one that walked through the garden of Eden." ("What Happened from the Cross to the Throne", tape.) "Every prophet that walked the face of the earth under the Abrahamic covenant could have paid the price if it were a physical death only" ("What Happened...") "When he said `It is finished' on that cross, he was not speaking of the plan of redemption. The plan of redemption had just begun, there were still three days and three nights to be gone through." ("What Happened...") "When His blood poured out it did not atone." (Kenneth Copeland: From a personal letter to D.R.McConnell, dated 12/3/79. Cited in A Different Gospel, p.120) "Jesus went into hell itself and suffered the penalty for sin" (Believer's Voice of Victory magazine, May 1994, page 5.) "[Jesus] accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own Spirit, and at the moment that He did so, He cried `My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'." ("What Happened...") "He [Jesus] was down in that pit and there he suffered the punishment for three horrible days and nights for Adam's treason... There is a new birth takes place in the very depths of the earth, when the command of God says `That's enough, loose him and let him go'." ("What Happened...")
A good summary quote of this teaching from a fellow `Faith' teacher is this: "Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case the two thieves could have paid your price. No the punishment was to go into hell itself and serve time in hell separated from God... Satan and all the demons of hell thought they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus, and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence." (Fred K.C. Price, Ever Increasing Faith Messenger, June 1980, p.7)
It has become obvious that Copeland's belief about "what took place in the three days and three nights" has nothing to do with orthodox Bible teaching, and has not been "covered up and hidden in tradition"! Yet Copeland ends his tape "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" with the following remark: "`Go into all the world and preach the gospel' - what is the gospel? Just exactly what I have been telling you for the last hour."
So Copeland believes that it is not what happened ON the Cross (when the real Jesus poured out His precious blood to pay for our sins), but what happened AFTERWARDS that really matters - when his imaginary `Jesus' (who had died spiritually and become "one with Satan" on the cross) was being tortured by Satan (his "step-father") in hell.
Commenting on this teaching the late Dr Walter Martin, a world expert on cults, said the following: "It is the height of theological folly to reduce God the Son, the second person of the holy Trinity, to a lost sinner with the nature of Satan and then send Him to hell with the requirement of regeneration before He can complete the work of redemption." (p.104, Agony of Deceit, Moody Press: Chicago, 1990)
Before looking into more of the specific teachings of the `Faith' movement (also called the prosperity movement and the `Word-Faith' movement) it will be helpful to see where it comes from. Many Christians have been taken unawares by it because they think it comes from the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. Such is not the case at all. In the latter half of this century, the acknowledged father-figure of the movement has been Kenneth Hagin. It is from him that Copeland and others have directly borrowed their message. However, the real father of the `Faith' message is E.W.Kenyon, who was teaching the same things before Kenneth Hagin was even born (Kenyon died in 1948). To the casual observer, the `Faith' movement has certain similarities in experience, etc., to the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. However, the core of the message, and its origins, are widely divergent. Kenyon, its founder, inadvertently `borrowed' from the ideas taught by Christian Science, New Thought and Unity School of Christianity. In the book A Different Gospel, D.R. McConnell documents clearly the progress of Kenyon's ideas while studying at Emerson's New Thought college in Boston. Though Hagin has tried to deny his obvious plagiarism of Kenyon's "The Wonderful Name of Jesus", saying that he only saw the book in 1978, as McConnell points out, "The problem is that two years prior to 1978, the first date that Hagin admits to having read Kenyon's The Wonderful Name of Jesus, he had already copied extensively from this book for an article published in his magazine in 1976. That article never mentions the name of E.W.Kenyon."..."He has plagiarised Kenyon both repeatedly and extensively. Actually, it would not be overstated to say that the very doctrines that have made Kenneth Hagin and the Faith movement such a distinctive and powerful force within the independent charismatic movement are all plagiarised from E.W.Kenyon." (p.7, A Different Gospel).
He also points out the very obvious similarities between statements of Kenyon and those of New Thought writer R.W.Trine. Trine wrote concerning the `law' of prosperity: "To hold yourself in this [positive] attitude of mind is to set in operation subtle, silent irresistible forces that sooner or later actualize in material form that which is today merely an idea. But ideas have occult power and ideas rightly planted and rightly tended are the seeds that actualize material conditions" (R.W.Trine, In Tune with the Infinite, p.138 [emphasis mine]). Those familiar with any of the modern writings on prosperity and positive confession will see, in the light of this quotation, that they have more in common with the writings of Trine (via Kenyon and Hagin) than with the Scriptures.
To give a wider picture of the teachings of the `Faith' movement there now follows a list of some of the key teachings: [Under each heading the position of the `Faith' teachers is outlined, with any relevant quotes, and then follows the Biblical view on each topic.]
They teach that he had the nature of God and great inner creative power as God had. E.W. Kenyon taught that man "must partake either of God's nature or of Satan's nature", and therefore he has no distinct nature of his own. Charles Capps puts it like this: "God said, Let us make man in our image after our likeness. The word likeness in the original Hebrew means "an exact duplication in kind."... Adam was an exact duplication of God's kind!" (Authority in Three Worlds, p.15-16. [Emphasis in original]. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 1982.)
What Capps is putting to us here is made crystal clear for us by his fellow Faith-teacher Kenneth Copeland when he states quite emphatically that "God's reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself, and in the Garden of Eden He did that. He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even.... Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus - When He came into the earth He said `If you've seen Me you've seen the Father'. He wasn't a lot like God - He's God manifested in the flesh. And I want you to know something: Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh!" ("Following the Faith of Abraham", part I, side 1). [Cassette obtained from Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Bath, UK, Summer 1994]
What the Bible says:
In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 the Hebrew word Elohim is used only of God, not of man (who was only a creature). Adam was created with a sinless human nature. He had a nature that was made `in the image of God' but was distinct from it. (Genesis 1:26 and 2:7)
They teach that he was a little god who owned the planet earth and all God's creation. According to Kenneth Hagin, man "was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority... Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on equal terms with God." (Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, p. 35-36, Tulsa, OK: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc. 1989.) According to some of the `Faith' teachers he was given total ownership for a 6000 year period. His spoken words would cause food to grow and feed him. Meanwhile, God was "outside looking in" (as Copeland tells us on his tape, "What Happened...") and "powerless to do anything" - He had given the Earth to man freehold.
What the Bible says:
Adam's dominion was only a stewardship to look after what God had made, to tend the garden of Eden and look after the animals (Gen. 1:28; Gen.2:15). The Earth and everything in it still belonged to God - Adam was God's tenant. (See, for example, Lev. 25:23, Deut.4:39, Jer. 27:5, Psa. 24:1- "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it"). Andrew Brandon, in his book Health and Wealth (which gives an excellent overview of the movement), gives the following illustration: "Man was given dominion over the earth, but this must not be confused with legal authority. Man was God's viceroy, representing him in Creation. The situation was not unlike the position of Mountbatten in India before independence. As viceroy of all India, he represented the power and interests of the British government. Because of the authority delegated to him, he was allowed to use his own initiative in some matters. Nevertheless, he was answerable to the British government and could be deposed at will if he was found to be unsatisfactory." (Health and Wealth, p.104, Kingsway Publications, 1987)
They teach that Adam lost God's nature and suffered `spiritual death' taking the nature of Satan, and so he became "a step- son of Satan". He became powerless; he lost his creative power. Again, I quote from Charles Capps' book Authority in Three Worlds: "Adam had revelation knowledge that flowed from God, the Father. But when Adam bowed his knee to Satan, he shut God out. God found Himself on the outside looking in. His man, Adam, had lost his authority. Satan... had... become the god of the world system.... Satan had gained ascendency in the earth by gaining Adam's authority, and God was left on the outside. God couldn't come here in His divine power and wipe them out. He had to move in an area where it would be ruled legal by the Supreme Court of the Universe." (pages 50-51) Now observe how clearly Frederick K.C. Price states the belief of the `Faith' teachers: "Adam, as I said, gave it [the earth] away to the serpent, to the Devil. As a result of it he got his behind kicked out of the garden. He went out of Eden, out of the garden. He began to wander around, and he has troubles from day one. Now God was out of the business. God was out of the earth realm. God had no more stock in this earth realm. No more. None at all. Nothing He could do. Not a thing in the world He could do.... The only way God could get back into this earth realm, He had to have an invitation. Ha-hah! He had to have an invitation." ("Ever Increasing Faith" program on TBN [1 May 1992], audiotape #PR11.)
The Earth, then, had become the legal property of Satan: "When Adam gave that creature the authority that God had given him, he made Satan the god of this world." (Copeland: "What Happened...") This meant that God was not only "outside looking in" but was also utterly powerless to do anything on Earth. Without man's cooperation God was LOST!
What the Bible says:
At the Fall, Adam's distinctive human nature became sinful. He was separated from God by his rebellion (Rom.5:19). Again, Brandon's illustration is helpful: "Man, like Lord Mountbatten [see above], was God's representative on earth. He was permitted a certain degree of freedom, such as naming the animals, but was ultimately responsible to God for his stewardship of the planet. The fall, rather than being the exile of God from earth, was the exile of man from God. It is significant that after the fall, God excluded Adam and Eve from Eden and left angelic guardians barring their return (Gen 3:24)." (Ibid. p.104)
God's plan of redemption:
The `Faith' teachers say that since Adam's sin deserved suffering in hell, someone had to go there and suffer in Adam's place. Kenneth Hagin states it like this: "He [Jesus] tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner man went to hell in my place. Can't you see that? Physical death wouldn't remove your sins." ("How Jesus Obtained His Name", side 1, tape #44H01. Tulsa, OK: Kenneth Hagin Ministries.) The quotation earlier by Fred Price also promotes this view. (Can he really compare the death of Jesus Christ with that of a guilty thief? You must judge for yourself.)
What the Bible says:
God brought to fulfilment His blood sacrifice system; hence the statement of John the Baptist, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) One perfect [i.e. not just a prophet or any other sinner] blood sacrifice was to be made which would pay for our sins (Isaiah 53:5,10 and 11; Hebrews 10:10).
Copeland (and the rest) inform us that He was a `carbon copy' of Adam (e.g. Copeland: "What Happened..."). It is clear from many statements on the subject that they deny the pre-existent Jesus, since Copeland teaches that Jesus is only the product of God's positive confession: "The angels spoke the words of the covenant to her [Mary]. She pondered them in her heart, and those words became the seed. And the Spirit of God hovered over her and generated that seed, which was the word that the angel spoke to her. And there was conceived in her, the Bible says, a holy thing. The Word literally became flesh." ("The Abrahamic Covenant", side 2, audiocassette #01-4405, Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985.)
Elsewhere (as we saw) Adam and Jesus were both "God manifested in the flesh". In the `Faith' message the fact must be seen that neither is `God' in a Christian understanding. Rather, both are said to have the `nature of God'. Copeland says that Jesus "has got to be all man. He cannot be a God and come storming in here with attributes and dignities that are not common to man. He can't do that. It's not legal." ("The Incarnation", side 1, audiocassette #01-0402, emphasis in original, Fort Worth, TX: KCM, 1985.)
What the Bible says:
Jesus is the only one (Greek: monogenes - meaning 'One of a kind' or 'Unique') who is God Himself come in flesh. He is fully human and fully divine. (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9) Although called the eternal Word of God, he is not one of God's spoken words.
Born Again ~ An Incarnation?:
E.W.Kenyon said, "The Lord Jesus was not, however, a `one-of-a-kind.' `Incarnation' can be repeated in each and every one of us. Every man who has been `born again' is an Incarnation." (E.W.Kenyon: The Father and His Family, p.100)
Hagin says, "You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth." (Kenneth Hagin: Word of Faith, December, 1980, p.14) "You don't have a god in you. You are one!" (Kenneth Copeland: "The Force of Love", tape.)
"Dogs beget dogs, and cats beget cats, and God begets gods. You are all little gods" (Kenneth Copeland, speaking on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord show)
"Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God... Jesus is known as the first begotten from the dead. If there is a firstborn, then there has to be a secondborn, a thirdborn, a fourthborn, etc." (Copeland: "Now Are We in Christ Jesus", p.24, Kenneth Copeland Publications, Texas.)
"I say this and repeat it so it doesn't upset you too bad... when I read in the Bible where He [Jesus] says, `I AM,' I say, `Yes, I AM too!'" (Kenneth Copeland: Spoken during a crusade meeting, 19/7/1987)
What the Bible says:
Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God (John 1:18, John 3:16) The statements by Kenyon, Hagin and Copeland are sheer blasphemy, and surely so obviously so that no Bible references are really needed. Check out just about any book of the Bible! (Try, for a start, Deut. 6:4 and Isaiah 43:10. Genesis 3:5 shows that the idea of being `like God' was the lure of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.)
Jesus on the Cross:
The `Faith' teachers insist that Jesus became a sinful, ordinary mortal man with Satan's nature - a "stepson of Satan". Ray McCauley has taught that "while on the cross, He (Jesus) was going to have to take Satan as His stepfather." [McCauley, who was trained under Kenneth Hagin (at RHEMA Bible Training Center), allegedly repented of this teaching (according to a letter dated 17/11/90), but since then has continued selling and distributing materials teaching exactly this message.]
The cross apparently accomplished nothing, being a place of `failure and defeat'. Jesus did not bear our sins in his body on the cross.
What the Bible says:
The `Lamb of God' remained sinless while bearing our sins. He did not become a sinner, but was treated as one. His physical death was the blood sacrifice which paid for our sins. (Heb. 9:12,14,28; Heb. 7:27)
The Atonement for Sin:
Not by the blood sacrifice on the cross, they say. E.g. "if His death paid it then every man could die for himself " (Fred K.C. Price). "The plan of redemption had just begun. There were still 3 days and 3 nights to be gone through." (Copeland) He was dragged by demons into hell and tormented for 3 days and 3 nights as the payment for sin. Adam's suffering in hell was then substituted for. Then `Jesus' had to be BORN AGAIN to lose his Satanic nature and regain a righteous God nature. Thus we find also that, "Sin was not reckoned to Him. Sin was not set to His account. He became sin." (E.W.Kenyon, Identification, p.12)
"Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price" (Fred Price)
"Physical death would not remove our sins. He tasted death for every man - spiritual death. Jesus is the first person ever to be born again. Why did His spirit need to be born again? Because it was estranged from God. Do you remember how He cried out on the cross, `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'"... "Sin separates from God. Spiritual death means separation from God... Spiritual death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan's nature." (Kenneth Hagin: "The Name of Jesus", pp. 29-31).
"Jesus went into hell to free mankind from the penalty of Adam's high treason . . . When His blood poured out it did not atone. . . . Jesus spent three horrible days and nights in the bowels of this earth getting back for you and me our rights with God". [Kenneth Copeland: From a personal letter to D.R.McConnell, dated 12/3/79. Cited in A Different Gospel, p.120]
What the Bible says:
Sin was paid for on the cross BY THIS SACRIFICE (Heb. 10:10; Matt. 27:51). The veil of the Temple was torn by the Father. This shows that the blood sacrifice was accepted and thus man's sins were paid for. We can now enter the Holy of Holies by the Blood of the Lamb. Check out the following Bible verses: Ephesians 1:7, 2:13 and 2:15; Colossians 1:20-22; 1 Peter 1:19, 2:24, 4:1.
Centrality of the Cross:
E.W.Kenyon wrote, "We have sung `Nearer the cross' and we have prayed that we might be `Nearer the cross' but the cross has no salvation in it. It is a place of failure and defeat" (Advanced Bible Course, p.279) [emphasis mine]. As usual, the others merely echo Kenyon's ideas about this.
What the Bible says:
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the Power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18) See also Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20 and 2:15.
*** Poison! ***
Given that the `Faith' message has totally different views of the nature of man, of God, of Jesus Christ, of the incarnation, and of the atonement, it must be questioned whether any Bible-believing Christian should have anything to do with the movement. Should Christians attend conferences where even one speaker is a known adherent to such teachings? In the summer of 1994 Ray McCauley spoke at several meetings alongside top names from the British Pentecostal/charismatic movement. Should this kind of thing happen? Do you think that our leaders should share speaking platforms with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses as well?
Not only has McCauley polluted Africa for 15 years (as Kenneth Hagin Ministries) and done nothing about it, but he continues to sell materials in South Africa and the U.K. (as Ray McCauley Ministries) which teach the false atonement of the `JDS heresy' (as summed up in Fred Price's statement) and the `little gods' doctrine.
Many object to such a clear-cut view of the `Faith' movement, saying that since the Bible is so often quoted in the writings of these teachers they must be Biblical. But again we must ask ourselves a question: How much error is really required before someone's theology can be labelled `dangerous' and must be disposed of?
The late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, speaking on a similar issue gave this helpful illustration: "[Imagine] a man with a bottle in his hand. There is a coloured liquid in the bottle and there are many ingredients in that bottle. There's water in it and there's colouring matter, and they're all excellent ingredients. But there happens to be an amount of prussic acid, and though it's a very small amount it can kill anybody who drinks out of that bottle! What's the point of praising the good ingredients when there is rank, lethal poison in the bottle?" The `Faith' message contains no small amount of poison! To simply acknowledge their `use' of the Bible and ignore their heretical ideas in the name of `Christian unity' is surely spiritual suicide.
It is abundantly clear from what they say and write that the ideas and teachings promoted by Hagin, Copeland, and the rest, are heretical, and so it would be expected that anyone realising this would turn away from the teaching and its propagators. However, this has not often been the case. Although it is not an organised cult in the sense of having one particular leader and an organizational headquarters, the `Faith' movement has managed to condition those inside and out with its `safeguards' against Bible-based evaluation. Perhaps if you, the reader, have come under such teaching you may have been clearly warned not to criticise or question "God's anointed men". (Also, they are prone to yell "critical spirit" or, "you're only arguing about words!" Yet such is clearly not the case.) Another aspect of the control by the movement's leaders is seen in one of Kenneth Hagin's `revelations', in which `Jesus' told him that those pastors who didn't accept Hagin's prophetic word would die in their pulpits (see, for example, I Believe in Visions, pp. 114-115). Also a certain leader of one of the Rhema Bible Churches stood up before the congregation with a copy of D.R. McConnell's book (mentioned already) and told people that if they read it they would lose their salvation. Of course, these are not `God's anointed' and need not be feared.
People are also very concerned that if they begin to analyse the movement's teachings for themselves (i.e. think critically) then God might be angered and they will lose their healing and financial security, etc. It may sound rather odd to those on the outside, but to those involved it is a very serious matter indeed.
Another aspect of this struggle is found in the October '93 issue of Alpha magazine (UK). In its feature on Benny Hinn, it quotes him at one point (October '91) saying "I really no longer believe the faith message. I don't think it adds up." He comments that for 10 years he filled his life with `Faith' books, but then he adds: "I respect these teachers as men of God." On 8 June 1992, Hinn told his Trinity Broadcasting Network TV audience that those who spoke out against `Word-Faith' teacher Kenneth Copeland were "attacking the very presence of God." Had Benny Hinn really understood that the message he read about and preached for so long has no power to save?
Another more serious example is that of Ray McCauley of Rhema South Africa: In October 1994, a contact in Johannesburg went and bought a copy of What Happened from the Cross to the Throne by E.W. Kenyon, as well as Copeland's tape Following the Faith of Abraham I, from the Rhema Bookshop. Copeland's What Happened from the Cross to the Throne was also available there, as well as a plethora of `Faith' publications. This shows very clearly that 3 years and 11 months after Ray McCauley claimed to have repented of such teaching, he is still wilfully propagating it! Yet when people have asked "Do you teach that Jesus died spiritually?" he replies "No". The difference between `teaching' and `propagating' is merely used as a means to deceive.
Some Christians are convinced the `Faith' teachers are in fact changing. The scrutinizing of their teachings after such proclaimed revisions is documented by Dan McConnell, the author of A Different Gospel. He comments that "The Faith teachers may have toned down their rhetoric and altered some of their jargon", but goes on to say that "the Faith controversy has never been resolved at the doctrinal level, nor will it until the Faith teachers recant [their] doctrines and practices. Cultic and heretical doctrine cannot be `moderated', as if all that is necessary are a few cosmetic alterations and word changes... Moderated heresy is still heresy" (p.188).
Walter Martin has determined that "those who propagate these erroneous views (the little gods, the born-again Jesus, and so on) have sadly crossed over into the kingdom of the cults." (p.104, Agony...) As Hank Hanegraaff concluded in the book Christianity in Crisis, "at stake is no less than salvation itself." Evidently, Benny Hinn, Ray McCauley, and all those who have been involved with the `Faith' movement, need some clear understanding of the choices involved, and their consequences.
Yet those who have sought to help them see the errors were despised. The authors of Agony of Deceit attempted to contact those under scrutiny: "We have sought out those in question," they report. "We have asked them, `Did we get this right? Do you really believe this?' We have asked them to reconsider their positions in the light of Scripture and have repeatedly attempted to settle confusion behind closed doors. All attempts have failed..." (p.13 Agony of Deceit)
Many of the movement's leaders thus simply will not listen to the voice of reason - they have their visions, their `revelations' from God, and anyone who disagrees with them is automatically dismissed. This is due to their Gnostic claims to have `revelation knowledge'. Those who disagree with them are said to have only `sense knowledge' (i.e. the Bible's literal, straightforward interpretation.)
For a Mormon to become a Christian, he would have to repent of his false beliefs about Jesus and the gospel and then put his trust in the real Jesus. This should be the case for those who realise the errors of the `Faith' movement, too. Have you ever met a converted Jehovah's Witness who still thinks that Charles Taze Russell (their founder) was a sound Bible teacher? What about a converted Mormon who thinks that Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormons) ought to be held up along with Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah as a true prophet of God?! Of course not!
It is a shame that this booklet had to be written. It would be nice if those teaching `Faith' and `prosperity' doctrines would meet with evangelical leaders and scholars and settle matters quietly. Even if they came to no agreement, at least, perhaps, the `Faith' teachers could agree to stop calling themselves Christians and masquerading as Bible-teachers among the unsuspecting Christian public.
Sadly, this has not yet happened. Instead, the `Faith' teachers mock sound theology, calling it `traditional church', and so on. Paul Crouch, the head of Trinity Broadcasting Network (the world's largest Christian TV network) has hardened himself against all attempts at correction: "To hell with you! Get out of my life!" was his response on one occasion. He referred to sound theology as `doctrinal doodoo' and in the same broadcast said "I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there! Don't even call me if you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten somebody out... criticize Ken Copeland... or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life! I don't even want to talk to you... I don't want to see your ugly face!" He evidently sees his that his `godship' puts him beyond accountability, resorting on a different occasion to the following outburst on his Praise the Lord show (July 7, 1986): "I AM A LITTLE GOD... I am a little god. Critics be gone!" (This is the attitude of the man whose TV network propagates many of the teachers quoted in this article.)
What should we do?
After examination of the details given above we must come to some conclusions. So, what should we do? The Bible exhorts us to "hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught", so that we can "encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus1:9). Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul tells us that "If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:9)
Evidently Paul took these matters very seriously. So should we. If you, the reader, have been involved in the `Faith' movement, especially if you have accepted the false gospel documented above, then please read the following Bible passage: Acts 19:18-19. This shows the right response to God and His truth.
APPENDIX ~ Useful books on this subject:
Health and Wealth - Andrew Brandon, Kingsway Publications, 1987 This book was widely available in Christian bookshops until 2 or 3 years ago. Stocks of it burned at a warehouse in Cumbria and Kingsway have sadly never reprinted it. After trying unsuccessfully to order it from most of the main UK wholesalers, I eventually found my copy among some second-hand books which came into the City Mission bookshop in Birmingham! For those who would see more of Andrew Brandon's book on our bookshelves, Scripture Union UK has acquired the copyright and need your encouragement to reprint it. Brandon writes very well, and doesn't play games when it comes to dealing with the issues at stake, for he exposes the 'Jesus' of the prosperity gospel to be other than the real One. Chapter 7, 'Another Jesus', under the subtitle A Jesus who is less than God, begins a section which strikes at the heart of the deceptive 'gospel', which indeed does not lead to the real Jesus. This book deals clearly with both the spiritual and moral flaws of the teachings emanating from the 'Faith' Movement.
A Different Gospel - D.R. McConnell, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA., 1988 Originally written as a Master's thesis this book addresses the 'Faith' Movement's origins and its denial of the blood atonement in a clear, concise manner. McConnell takes us from Kenneth Hagin's plagiarizing of the writings of E.W.Kenyon to the origin of Kenyon's beliefs - the occultic thinking of Christian Science and New Thought metaphysics. Here, he says, Kenyon developed his belief in the power of the mind and the confession of the mouth as the source of life's blessings and difficulties. In other words, man, by his mental attitude and the words he speaks, becomes the creator of his circumstances. Just why Kenyon decided that the blood atonement was 'sense knowledge' and that Jesus actually had suffered 'spiritual death' on the cross and then suffered in hell to pay for sins is not known. But that he is the originator of this modern day pollution, via Hagin et al, is absolutely certain. Available from Evangelical Press.
The Agony of Deceit - Various authors, Editor: Michael Scott Horton, Moody Press, 1990 This book exposes an all-important part of the 'Faith' teaching which wasn't covered by McConnell: the denial of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. (For example, "Jesus said 'I didn't claim to be God when I walked the earth'" - Kenneth Copeland.) It also deals with the 'Faith' belief that the born-again believer is a little god. Although a good portion of the book deals with the question of the validity of TV Christian ministry, this is certainly a good question for us given that an organisation called Vision Broadasting is sending us Copeland and other `Faith' teachers via satellite. Available from Scripture Press.
Christianity in Crisis - Hank Hanegraaff, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR., 1993 In a unique presentation, Hanegraaff brings together all that has been exposed in these other books. Furthermore he presents a broad account of the `Faith' message, from Adam to the born-again believer. This is important in understanding the statement, "particular groups within the movement are clearly cults" (p.41). He also provides us with a wide range of short biographical sketches of the actions and beliefs of modern `Faith' teachers (e.g. Avanzini, Price, Hickey, Tilton, Cerullo) which is really what we needed to be alerted to those who are counted amongst them. As he progresses through the book he provides ample documented quotations incriminating the `Faith' proponents in various areas, including the `God' of their beliefs. For instance, Copeland's `God' "measured out the heavens with a 9-inch span. See, God is not 437 feet tall, weighing 4000 pounds, and got fist a fist big around as this room..." Rather, he is "a being that stands somewhere around 6'-2", 6'-3", that weighs somewhere in the neighbourhood of a couple of hundred pounds or a little better, has a span of 9 inches across." (Copeland: Spirit, Soul and Body I, audiotape #01-0601. Cited on p.356 Christianity in Crisis). Furthermore, his forthright assessment has brought to light the heart attitudes of men who, it is plain, seek greedily the money of the weak, while claiming "Jesus had a nice house, a big house" (John Avanzini on Trinity Broadcasting Network, January 1991.) Such attitudes we find are only equalled by the "don't touch God's servant" threats made publicly by Benny Hinn against the author of this book. The true heart of the `Faith' teachers is laid bare. We are grateful for Hanegraaff's bold, much-needed assessment of the `Faith' Movement. Clearly he is right when he states that "the stakes are high - no less than salvation itself."
Stuart St.John can be contacted at mailto:%firstname.lastname@example.org
End Note: Since this article was first published there has been quite a response from people sympathetic to the 'Faith' Movement, expressing their anger at its appearance. A few have tried to answer some of the points raised, while most have simply vented their fury calling the author a 'heresy hunter', and accusing him of obviously having nothing better to do.
Before adding your e-mail to the existing stack of it, please consider the following points:- The author spends the majority of his time in Christian evangelistic work - not researching aberrant movements or hunting down the pedlars of heresy. In the course of this evangelistic work he met many Christians who were being led astray into dangerous and harmful teachings. He also met people who had been put off the Christian faith because of hearing this kind of teaching and seeing some of its less-publicized results. He therefore sought to write a concise booklet which briefly outlined the main problem areas in the 'Faith' teaching.
Of course not all that the 'Faith' teachers say is wrong - that is not the point. But the areas in which their teaching deviates from orthodoxy are not secondary issues, but primary ones involving the Nature of God, the Nature of Man, the Atonement and even the Nature of Faith itself. Christians can disagree on secondary issues in good conscience - for instance, the author is not greatly concerned whether you are pre-, post- or amillenial, since you can be genuine Christian with or without any of these views. However, all Christians should be concerned about primary issues. We should test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We must watch our lives and doctrine closely.
Columns Copyright © Other Side,1997 Mark