by Rex Rouis
Word of Faith is normally associated with what is called “the faith movement.” The term is taken from Romans 10:8-10:
“But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, (9) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (10) for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Word of Faith shares several beliefs with many other Pentecostal and Charismatic groups but its main distinction is its emphasis on Words and Faith, hence, ‘Word of Faith’.
Words Are Important Because
- Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the (spoken) word of God – Romans 10:17
- Faith is released primarily by the words of our mouth – Mark 11:23, 24, Romans 10:8-10
- All faith is based on the will of God which is communicated to us by the Bible which is the total Word of God.
Faith Is Important Because
- Faith is required to please God
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
- Faith comes to us from God
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the (spoken) word of Christ. Romans 10:17
- Faith is required to receive from God
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, James 1:6,7
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1 – Holman Christian Standard Bible
The relationship of Words and Faith is as follows
- God speaks Words (as recorded in the Bible – the Word)
- We receive and believe His Word
- We speak and act on His Word in Faith
- He confirms His Word with ‘signs following’
- We receive the benefit of His Word
And although Word of Faith theology puts importance on the authority of man, the majority of the emphasis is placed on the authority of God’s Word, and the speaking of that Word. Basically, once fallen man has been restored (by faith) to his rightful place (salvation) he has the privilege to use faith (in His word) for other benefits. Everything comes through faith, and faith only comes through understanding and obeying His Word. Faith begins where the will of God is known, and the will of God is known only through His Word.
Other Word of Faith attributes
- Believing in your heart and speaking with your mouth
- The authority of man as a restored believer
- Faith is the sole power of prayer
- Confession of God’s Word to build faith in one’s heart
- The New Birth makes us a ‘new creature in Christ’
- New Creation Realities – what we are ‘In Christ’
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of ‘speaking in tongues’
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Work of the Holy Spirit have not ceased but are still evident today
- Healing is a core aspect of salvation, purchased by Christ on the Cross
- Deliverance is a core aspect of salvation, purchased by Christ on the Cross
- Prosperity is a core aspect of salvation, purchased by Christ on the Cross
- Prayer to the Father in Jesus Name
The movement is commonly attributed to the teachings of Kenneth E Hagin and those who have sprouted from his ministry. The teachings of the group have been picked up by the Charismatic movement of the 70s and 80s, and to some extent by the prophetic groups.
While most of the attention comes from the teaching about healing and prosperity, the most significant teachings are actually in the areas of speaking our faith, our relationship with the Father, new creation realities, and the renewed interest in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Again, the most important feature of Word of Faith theology is the relationship of words to faith, and faith back to words.
Word of Faith Under Attack
The movement came under attack in the early 90s when two books, ‘Christianity In Crisis’ by Hank Hanegraaff and ‘A Different Gospel’ by D.R. McConnell were published. At one point, as a result of these books, the group was being labeled a “cult.” Several Christian magazines became involved and many people began to take sides. Eventually, this all died down and all talk of it being a cult faded away as the accusations were deemed as unreasonable exaggerations of what mainstream Word of Faith people believe and teach.
I know this from personal experience. Since 1978 I have been exposed to the Word of Faith movement and acquainted with many of its leaders. I know personally that many of the quotations included in the above books were taken wildly out of context and do not represent mainstream Word of Faith concepts. When I would read a statement of what we are purported to believe, I would think to myself, “Wow, we don’t believe that; I don’t know anybody who believes that.” Let me give an example from the Bible of this very thing. Jesus said the following statement concerning His body, using the temple as an analogy.
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22
At the time, nobody fully understood the statement, but the Pharisees did not even try to understand. Instead, they chose to use their own false interpretation of the statement in an attempt to discredit Him. In humility of heart they could easily have asked Him about it. Instead, this is what the Pharisees said at the so-called trial.
Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'” Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. Mark 14:57-59
Imagine a book about the life of Jesus written by a Pharisee of His time. What kind of distortions would it have? What kind of wild accusations would it be filled with? How many more quotations would be taken out of context? This is exactly what these books on the Word of Faith movement are filled with. They were eventually discredited in many circles. CRI, the group headed by Hank Hanegraaff, fell into disrepute as a result of these kinds of attacks. The Word of Faith movement continues to grow and prosper, and is on the leading edge of evangelism around the world. How we respond to what we do not understand is determined by the condition of our heart. True belief is at its base a moral decision.
Most attackers have a Cessationist Theological background. Cessationist Theology for the most part does not believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, miracles, healings, or any of the other Charismatic beliefs and practices. That is why most Cessationists think that Pentecostal denominations are as a whole cults. They only see things one way and that is their way. Add to this the misunderstanding of ‘speaking faith’ and you have a real battle on your hands. They see in Word of Faith theology the embodiment of Pentecostal experientialism and emotionalism, capitalist financial excesses, and new age ‘force beliefs.’ It is none of this.
There Are Word of Faith Excesses
That is not to say that Word of Faith does not have people with excessive view points and teachings. For instance, with regard to healing, some individuals promote the refusal of doctors, or for that matter any medical attention. Hagin and other leaders of the faith movement have always rejected this sort of extreme thinking.
True Bible confession is meant solely for producing the faith necessary to manifest the will of God.
Another false Word of Faith notion is the belief that one can ‘confess’ whatever they want into this world. True Bible confession is meant solely for producing the faith necessary to manifest the will of God, not the carnal will of man. True Bible faith is based on the known will of God – “faith begins when the will of God is known.” Confession of anything else will not work, no matter how many times you ‘speak it out.’ A book like ‘You Can Write Your Own Ticket With God’ by Kenneth E. Hagin was written within the context of a submissive will that is obedient to the will of God, and an understanding that the universe of available things you can ‘write your own ticket’ for is limited to the written promises in the Bible. Confessing for a quick million dollars or somebody else’s wife is ridiculous (although it has been done, more times than I care to think). There are ditches on either side of any road, especially God’s narrow road of faith.
You Need To Determine For Yourself What You Believe
We will all stand before God one day and answer for the things done and said in this body. Please read the Bible for yourself and determine what you believe. See – Speak the Word Only? You Be the Judge
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 11:10,11
See ‘Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology‘ by Derek E. Vreeland
And‘What’s Right About the Faith Movement’ by Jon Ruthven
On the Cessation of the Charismata – Jon Ruthven
The God-Kind of Faith – Part 1 – Troy J. Edwards
The God-Kind of Faith – Part 2 – Troy J. Edwards
Does God Have Faith? – McIntyre
The Faith of God (God-kind of Faith) – Smythe
His Name On Our Lips Brings Healing – Kenyon
Food For the Inner Man – George Mueller