Note: This article was written in 1992, so time references are to be taken in that context. All other information is accurate.
The Word of Faith Movement
In 1984, I became involved in what has come to be called the “Word of Faith Movement”. I thought at the time that it was the true faith. The teaching seemed make so much sense and offered some well thought out explanations as to why the world was the way it was. However, the information is presented in such a fashion that all contradictions are obscured.
The teachers in the WOF are masters at twisting the scriptures to fit their own doctrinal biases. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons, these men and women select certain scripture references and concentrate on them. They pour into these versed meanings which were not intended by the authors. Kenneth Copeland goes so far as to say that the Bible is written code so that the devil cannot understand it. The Bible does say that the natural man cannot understand the things of God unless the Holy Spirit of God is in him for no one can understand the things of God except the Spirit of God, but the gospel is not in code. It is plainly laid out in scripture for anyone to see. The devil knows full well what is involved in the salvation of a man. He knows what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished. Jesus was not defeated at the cross as Copeland asserts. The Bible plainly states in the Book of Colossians that Jesus “made an open show of the forces of darkness, triumphing over them through it (the cross)”.
It was just last year that my wife and I formally withdrew our support for the doctrines taught by the WOF ministries. We had given much of our time and wealth, believing their promises of prosperity and wealth while losing ground financially, to the point that our debt was equal to our annual contribution to church and Para church ministries. We studied tithing extensively and discovered that it was no longer necessary for us to tithe 10% of our income to the church in order for us to be obeying God and to escape coming under the curse of the law. We have found that God is more interested in our uncompelled free will offerings that are born out of our love for him and others rather than mandatory law based payments.
Our recovery from this doctrinal nightmare was slow and painful and is not really over yet. We continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the most difficult areas is listening to the voice of God. Both of us thought we were hearing God when we got into this movement. It was quite a shock to us when we realized would have to reject most of what we had taken to be gospel truth. The foundation on which we had built our lives was totally destroyed by the truth of God’s holy word. Now it was time to lay a new foundation, one based not on what others said, but based on careful scrutiny of the scriptures and laying what said against the truth of the word to see if it was correct. Before I thought I had been doing this, but when I look back I see that I merely looked up the verse they gave to see if it was there. If the spin they put on the verse did not seem to fit the context very well I justified them by saying, “Well it could mean both”. This was a very dangerous thing to do. In fact, it was only as I began to read the verses in the context in which they were written did I begin to see that many of the things the faith teachers were saying just could not be true. For example:
II Corinthians Chapter 2 the Apostle Paul tells the Christians that he was vexed on all sides by the terrible fear and imminent loss of his own life while he was in Macedonia. He tells them these things happened so would learn to trust in God who raised men from the dead. Later he tells them about how the light afflictions work for us an eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things which are unseen, for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Charles Capps takes these verses and builds the doctrine that says “You can change the seen things by shaping the unseen”. In effect what he teaches is this. Let’s say that what you see is red ink and not enough money in your bank account. This is a “seen thing”; which of course is temporal or temporary as he puts it. His solution to this dilemma is to shape the unseen and bring it into reality. This is accomplished by speaking words of faith to your checking account. These words of faith, or faith-filled words, will shape the unseen spiritual realm and when you have built your faith up the required level, what you have been confessing will suddenly manifest itself as more money in your checking account. He calls this living by faith. He also says that these light afflictions only work and eternal weight of glory while we look the things which are not seen. In other words, if you are going through some kind of affliction, and you look at the circumstances you are in rather than keep your mind and your confession focused on what you desire to come to pass in your life regarding that circumstance, there is no eternal weight of glory accredited to your heavenly account. The problem with this interpretation is that while it does say, “While we look at the things which are not seen…” the while has nothing to do with time in the sense of continuing to do something while something else is going on. The word in the Greek text is simply a connecting word used to fill the space and allow the thought to be continued. But, and, or would have worked just as well in the translation.
Another twist in this perversion of scripture is that it totally ignores the very statements it supposedly interprets. For instance; this verse says that “that which is unseen is eternal” which Capps himself says means “unchangeable”. How then could that which is unchangeable and eternal be shaped? You can’t have it both ways. Either it is unchangeable or it isn’t. The intent of Paul’s statement is so clear you have to concentrate hard to misinterpret it. It simply states that whatever you are going through for the cause of Christ, don’t worry about it because “great is your reward in heaven” as or Lord so simply put it.
Another perversion of the faith teacher is found Hebrews 11:3. This verse that that ‘”By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word o God, so that the things which are seen were not made of the things which can be seen.” Capps and others take this verse and read it this way: “We understand it is by faith the worlds were framed by the Word of God, a subtle, but deadly twisting of the meaning of the text. From this they begin to develop the idea that God has faith and uses it as a force to accomplish his will.
These perversions of scripture are just a few evidences against their teachings. There are many more which could be gone into but space does not permit us.
Job is a favorite character of theirs. They constantly use him as an example of what can happen when you fail in your confessions and in your faith. Though God said of Job that there was none like him in all the earth, perfect and upright before him, blameless in all that he did, the faith teachers make Job into a fearful backslidden sinner who lost his faith in God. Taking one statement by Job, “The thing that I greatly feared has come upon me”, these men turn him from a righteous man into a rank sinner. God’s opinion and their’s seem to be at odds. I’ll take God’s side anytime.
Kenneth Copeland is fond of using Hebrews 4, where it states that Jesus Christ is the High Pries of our confession. Through centuries of Christianity, this verse has been understood to mean that Jesus is the high Priest whom we confess to believe in, in spite of the persecutions which may come to us. Copeland, on the other hand, puts a whole new meaning into the text, which I am sure the writer of Hebrews would be very surprised at. Totally ignoring the context of the verse, Copeland says that it means that Jesus it the High Priest over what we confess. Or, in other words, He is the High Priest over the words of our mouths, seeing to it that those words, whether good or bad, come to pass. Isn’t that amazing? The Lord of all the universe has nothing better to do than to wait upon us hand foot, ensuring all the things we utter are made into universal law. The Bible states that Jesus is acting as a High Priest for us; i.e., he is continually before the Father making intercession for us. Yes, we should speak as befits children of the Most High God, but those words we speak are not going to create a reality. God creates our reality; it is up to us to respond to Him in it. He alone is Lord, not us. He will not share His glory nor will He allow His sovereignty to be compromised.