Word of Faith / Prosperity Gospel – Why Does it Matter?

Theopedia helpfully describes the Word of Faith movement with it’s attendant Prosperity Gospel:

The Word of Faith movement or word-faith theology developed in the latter half of the 20th century in mainly Pentecostal andCharismatic 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.”

Faith

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.” [#]

and further expands upon the Prosperity Gospel itself.

Prosperity gospel supporters “believe that faith works as a mighty power or force. That it is through their faith that they can obtain anything they want such as health, wealth, or any form of personal success. However, this force is only released through their faith.”^[#]^ Adherents of the Prosperity Gospel, almost always also part of the word of faith movement, usually hold to the tenet that God never grants suffering or poverty, and that both always should be attributed to sin and Satan in every way, and in no way attributed to God. For example, Kenneth Copeland writes,

“Tradition has taught that God uses sicknesses, trials, and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based on the Bible. God has never used sickness to discipline His children and keep them in line. Sickness is of Satan, and God doesn’t need Satan to straight us out! “Kenneth, I see Christians that are sick all the time. Why does God allow it?” God allows it because we do. Why? Because He’s given us the right to make our own choices, along with authority over the kingdom of darkness. According to Deuteronomy 30:19, He has put life and death before us. Then He instructed us to choose life. It’s up to us to make that decision. You have the power to live after God’s ways and resist sickness, or not to. You have the choice to let Satan run over you, or use the authority you have been given. Good gifts come from God. No matter what tradition has taught, sickness and disease simply don’t fall into the category of good gifts—ever.”^[#]^

John Piper has famously spoken out over his abhorrance of the movement:

Hillsong Conference regularly invites and endorsees key leaders from this movement.

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3 comments on “Word of Faith / Prosperity Gospel – Why Does it Matter?

  1. I find Heb 11 helpful on this issue – because the eyes can so easily be persuaded to latch on to the temporary and passing away:

    *they* did not receive what was promised.

    Heb. 11:13    All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. …

    Heb. 11:39    These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

  2. Well said. So good to hear an Anglican Minister comment on the deceptive “name it and claim it happy clappy” gospel.

    The number of people caught up in this gospel is frightening. A sort of mass hysteria which does basic down to earth Christianity a tremendous disservice.

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