What is the Word of Faith Movement?
The Word of Faith or Word-Faith Movement is neither an organization nor a denomination. This movement traces its roots from the “positive confessions” and New Thought teachings of E.W Kenyon who is said to be the originator of the movement. However Kenneth Hagin is said to be the “father” of the Word-Faith Movement because he was responsible for popularizing Kenyon’s theology and teachings since the late 20th century.
To this day, the Word of Faith Movement consists of a wave of popular but heretical teachings that have been popularized by other preachers such as Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdoch, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin and many others.
This movement is known as Word of Faith / Word-Faith mainly because of their false teachings and distorted perceptions regarding faith. Many Word-faith preachers such as Kenneth Copeland for example are on record as teaching that faith is a “force” which can be used to get or achieve whatever you desire.
Since this movement consists of some of the most popular preachers and televangelists, it is no surprise that the Word-Faith Movement and some of its heretical teachings have been very popular all over the world.
The heart of what word-faith preachers teach is that God promises health and wealth to anyone who practices their faith related formulas and theologies.
Some of the theology and false teachings of the Word of Faith Movement are as follows:
1. Faith is a “Force” Controlled By The Words You Speak
One of the foundational theologies of the Word-Faith movement is the belief that faith is a “force” through which a person is able to acquire whatever he wants if he conjures up enough faith.
They believe that the words you speak or the words you confess will control or manipulate the faith force in order to get the outcome that one desires.
Therefore your success and experience of material prosperity is dependent on how successful you are able to manipulate the faith force through your positive confession so that you get your desired outcome. This teaching is also called the Law of Attraction.
The Word-Faith movement subtly or indirectly promotes faith in faith instead of faith in God. Their theology clearly attempts to remove or ignore the sovereign will of God as it puts man as being the one who has the control and power to create whatever he so desires by simply using his words to control the faith force.
2. Prosperity Gospel / Health & Wealth
The prosperity gospel is the teaching that every born again believer is meant to obtain material wealth and riches. These riches are available by using faith and positive confessions whilst making deliberate and practical effort to seek the riches that one desires.
The Word-Faith movement also believes that the death of Jesus Christ extends to Christ giving every born again believer the ability to obtain the material riches and possessions that one desires.
Word of Faith preachers therefore teach their followers that one of the primary objectives in a person’s life must be the pursuit of material wealth. In the theology of this movement, the possession of material wealth is a visible sign that a person has the “favour” and “blessings” of God upon his life.
Therefore, a bankrupt bank account can be translated as one having a bankrupt faith. Or if you do not get healed from a sickness, then it is because you lacked enough faith to receive your healing.
Therefore the Word of Faith Movement teaches that if you desire to have whatever you wish, then you must use enough of the faith force to bring your desires or material wealth into existence. (see article: What Does The Prosperity Gospel Teach?)
3. Men Are Little Gods
The Word of Faith movement also teaches that men are like “little gods”. They have the belief that people are just like God in that they can control their reality and destiny by the use of their words.
The Word-Faith movement believes that since man is made in the image of God and if God created the universe by the power of His words, then it means that man also has creative power by the use of his/her words.
The Word-Faith movement therefore believes that just like God, man can control the weather; or just like God, man can change any reality or destiny.
The Word-Faith movement also heretically teaches its followers that God cannot do anything without the permission of man.
Therefore the subtle deception of this movement is that not only is man a “little god”, but that man can also control the Creator of the universe.
4. Seed-Faith Teachings
The Word-Faith movement also promotes the false doctrine of seed-faith offerings. Oral Roberts is known as one of the initial originators of this false teaching.
It involves followers being coerced into "seeding" or giving their money in "faith" with the belief that God will give them back a multiplied harvest or return of their initial offering.
For example, the belief is that if a person gives or "sows" $10 in "faith" to a prosperity preacher or his ministry, then God will be obligated to give that person a monetary or material reward of $20 or more in return. (see article: Can A Man Bribe God? What Is The Seed-Faith Teaching?)
5. Name It & Claim It
The Word of Faith Movement teaches that by using the power of your words, combined with the faith force, you will be able to use the technique of naming whatever you want into existence. Therefore a car, a house, a job and many other things can be acquired simply by naming it, claiming it and declaring it into existence.
So it is believed that positive confessions and declarations for the items you need will result in obtaining the possessions or reality you want in life. However, they also believe that "negative confessions" will create a negative reality or destiny since they believe that man is a "little god" who has the power to create his own reality by the words that he/she speaks.
6. Other False Doctrines & Beliefs
- They believe that Jesus died spiritually and that He had to be "tortured in hell" and "born again in hell" before He rose from the dead.
- They believe that the office of apostles and prophets still exists today. While most Word-Faith teachers do not outright claim to have an authority that matches or supersedes the Bible, they do allege that God gives them direct or special revelation in the form of words of knowledge, prophecies, and visions. Therefore the teachings of word-faith "apostles" or "prophets" cannot be questioned or challenged by their followers as they allege to hear from God alone because they claim to hold the spiritual offices of prophet and apostle.
- They believe that Jesus and His disciples were rich and that to be poor is a sin or to be sick is a sin.
- Many groups and leaders who are in the Word of Faith Movement also subscribe to the false teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.
What Does The Bible Teach About Word-Faith Movement Beliefs?
The Bible teaches us that God alone is Sovereign and He alone is able to create something from nothing (Genesis 1:3). Therefore God cannot be commanded and neither do we have the ability to manipulate Him based on our faith.
We are not supposed to have faith in our faith nor faith in our own words. Therefore God alone should be the object of our faith (Mark 11:22). We must have faith in God and God decides when and in what manner He will respond to prayer or our requests
We are not “little gods”. We are not deity. Instead we are God’s creation. Therefore we do not have the power to change the weather or create nothing from something by the power of the faith force or “positive confession”.
Therefore there is only one God who exists in 3 Persons (The Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit).
The prosperity gospel is a false doctrine according to scripture (1 Timothy 6:3-10). We cannot bribe or manipulate God with our monetary offerings. The seed-faith teaching encourages manipulation and coercion. The teaching is an insult to the divine nature of God and it promotes money as having some kind of power to influence the hand of God.
The Word of Faith movement is deceiving countless people around the world. It is a cultic and deceptive movement that uses both subtle and blatant methods to promote the self and individual interests rather than the genuine pursuit of Christ.
Most Word of Faith teachers have become enormously rich and wealthy because of the Word-Faith doctrine. Their prosperity gospel has made these preachers rich whilst their followers either become poorer, covetous or seek an unbiblical lifestyle in the pursuit of monetary riches.
Word-Faith preachers have managed to commercialize Christianity and make merchandise of their followers (2 Peter 2:1-3).
We must therefore be vigilant and careful to avoid being deceived by any preacher or religious groups that teach Word-Faith theology as such teachings have distorted genuine Biblical Christianity.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff