The Word of Faith movement or word-faith theology developed in the latter half of the 20th century in mainly
Charismatic churches. Its beginnings trace back to an early twentieth century evangelical pastor, E.W. Kenyon (1867-1948), who preached that God would award financial and other gifts if the faithful would ask. Kenyon coined
the phrase, "What I confess, I possess."
Kenneth E. Hagin is often credited with being the father of the modern Word of Faith movement, using a four-part formula he claimed to have received from Jesus: "Say it; do it; receive it; tell it."
Proponents of the doctrine include Oral Roberts, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Bill Winston, Creflo Dollar, Charles Nieman, Hobart Freeman, Benny Hinn,
T.D. Jakes, and Marilyn Hickey, among others. They teach that Christians must claim the grace God has promised them, whether in material goods, health, social position, or roles
within the church.
Probably the most distinctive teaching of the word-faith movement is "an idealized and prescriptive conception of faith that diminishes the relational and personal dimensions of Christian spirituality... [They push] the logic of faith to an idealized
and absolute conclusion"
Health and material prosperity
The word-faith movement promotes "an enthusiasm for material prosperity as a concrete expression of the goodness of God towards his people that is difficult to square with the high value placed, for various reasons, on poverty in the Bible, and which
is likely to compromise the church s prophetic voice."
The "health and wealth" teachings have been heavily criticized for avoiding scripture that warns against material prosperity (eg. Luke 6:20, Matthew 19:24, Ezekiel 16:49, James 2:5) and tells of the importance of helping the poor (eg. Isaiah
58:5-7, Luke 12:33 Mark 10:21, Acts 20:35, Psalm 82:1-5; Proverbs 19:17, 21:13, 22:9, 24:31, 29:7; Luke 20:37-42, Acts 10:5).
See main page: Prosperity gospel
The word-faith movement teaches "a narrative of salvation history that is at odds with mainstream evangelical thinking at a number of crucial points"
Christ's Spiritual Death
"Spiritual death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan's nature. Jesus tasted death, spiritual death, for every man." (
Kenneth E. Hagin, The Name of Jesus (Tulsa, OK: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, 1981), 31.
"The righteousness of God was made to be sin. He 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 hast thou forsaken Me?" You don t know what happened at the cross. Why
do you think Moses, upon instruction of God, raised the serpent upon that pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug me. I said, "Why in the world would you want to put a snake up there the sign of Satan? Why didn t you put a lamb on that pole?"
And the Lord said, "Because it was a sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross." He said, "I accepted, in My own spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned off." (Kenneth Copeland, "What Happened from the Cross to the
Throne" (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1990), audiotape #02-0017, side 2.
"He (Jesus) accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit." (Kenneth Copeland; "Christianity in Crisis" by Hank Hanegraaf, pg. 157-158, quoted in "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin, pg. 501)
"I am a little God! Critics be gone" (Paul Crouch, "Praise the Lord," TBN, July 7, 1986, quoted in "The kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin pg. 504)
"We are a class of Gods! You don't have a god in you, you are one." (Kenneth Copeland, leader of Kenneth Copeland Ministries; "Christianity in Crisis" by Hank Hanegraaf, pgs. 110, 116, quoted in "Kingdom of the Cults"
by Walter Martin, pg. 504)
"The eternal life He (God) came to give us is the nature of God...It is, in reality, God imparting His very nature, substance, and being to our human spirits...Many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real
incarnation. They do not know that they are as much sons as daughters of God as Jesus...Jesus was first divine, and then he was human. SoHe was in the flesh a divine human being. I was first human, and so were you, but I was born of God, so I became
a human-divine being." (
Kenneth Hagin, "ZOE: The God-Kind of Life," (1989): 1-2,27,40, quoted in "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin, pg. 505)
"The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth." (
Kenneth Hagin "The Incarnation" in the Word of Faith, Dec. 1980: 14, quoted in "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin, pg. 505)
"We are the Word made flesh, just as Jesus was." (Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Copeland Ministries; Crenshaw, "Man of God", 202, quoted in "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin, pg. 505)
- Proponents of the Word of Faith movement promote a trichotomous view of the nature of man (cf.
Nature of man).
- "There is a marked desire to shock, which goes with the showmanship of the Word of Faith movement but which may also echo the background buzz of polemic and debate with mainstream Christianity. Word of Faith teachers have a habit of making theologically
provocative statements that may appear much less scandalous when unpacked. The tabloid theologizing is designed to disrupt traditional assumptions and generate excitement about the life of faith on a routine basis."
Criticism of Word of faith
Support of Word of Faith
- The Prosperity Movement: Wounded Charismatics, by Roger L. Smalling
- The 'Word-faith' Movement, by Chris Hand
- The Word-Faith Movement, by Gary Gilley
- An Examination of the Word-Faith Movement, by Richard Vincent
- Conclusions: Word of Faith and Evangelical Unity (PDF)
- Positive Confession (Watchman Fellowship)
- Word-Faith Theology (Watchman Fellowship)
- Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (Watchman Fellowship)
Word-Faith Movement, by Clete Hux (Watchman Fellowship)
Ten Reasons To Reject Word of Faith Teaching, by Tricia Tillin
Wells Without Water Examination of Word of Faith Teaching, by Tricia Tillin
- What's Wrong With The Faith Movement? (
Part 2), by
- Faith in Faith or Faith in God?, by Hank Hanegraaff
- Word-Faith Movement (ApologeticsIndex.org) - Scroll down to Word-Faith Movement section
- Heresies Of The Word-Faith Movement