WORD FAITH THEOLOGY WITHIN MAINSTREAM EVANGELICALISM

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You’ve likely noticed here lately at Apprising Ministries that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time covering the pitiful position of far too many mainstream evangelical leaders when it comes to promoting, and even partnering with, Word Faith prosperity preachers like “trinitarian-modalist” T.D. Jakes.

To be a bit more specific, the people to whom I refer above would definitely include the self-appointed Evangelical Ecumenical Magisterium (EEM) that appears to have sprung up within the past couple of years around the two Elephant Room (ER) councils conducted by ER co-hosts James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll.

A few of the more notable EEM members can be seen in the ad below for the 2012 Acts 29 Resurgence R 12 conference. For example, we find both MacDonald and Driscoll along with ER1 vet Graig Laurie and synergistic Seeker Driven generals Rick Warren and Craig Groeschel:


(source)

You should know that EEM mainstay prophet-pastor Steven Furtick refers to Groeschel as his pastor. And returning to my main point concerning the growing acceptance of straight-up WF preachers within mainstream evangelicalism consider Elephant Room’s Steven Furtick descends down to Word Faith heretic Rod Parsley.

By the way, that would be the Rod Parsley seen below teaching us the power of the prayer cloth together with his fellow WF heretics Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Marilyn Hickey, and Morris Cerullo. Well that is, for those of you who’ve “sown seed,” i.e. given money, to these spiritual snake oil salesmen:

All of which brings me to a few key points that seem to be missed in all of this squishy charismania and its mush god’s desire to bring everyone claiming to be Christian into one big happy family (One World Religion?). First of all, I’ll remind you again that as a very young Christian I was once an adherent of WF theology.

The Lord be praised for leading me out of it. That said, I know its lingo and leaders well. That’s why as I see T.D. Jakes and Rod Parsley—both highly influential in WF circles—being touted by someone of Furtick’s stature I feel compelled to expose it. For you see, such as these do not come apart from their WF theology.

At this point, the following from Christian apologist Rob Bowman will prove helpful:

Some people object to any critique of the “Word-Faith teaching” on two grounds. First, it’s sometimes said that the Word-Faith teachers are evangelists, healers, prophets, or pastors, not teachers or theologians.

Second, it has been argued that the critics of of the Word-Faith movement have created a straw man “Word-Faith teaching” from statement taken out of context or shoehorned into a theology that none of the Word-Faith teachers espouse.

We are told that the Word-Faith teachers differ markedly on a number of doctrinal points, so that the doctrine attributed to them as a group is an artificial construct of the critics’ own imagination.1

Unfortunately, in the past there truly has been a lot of sloppy work critiquing the WF movement. But be that as it may, Bowman now goes on to point out:

It is, of course, true that none of the Word-Faith teachers is a systematic theologian, or even a methodical teacher whose theological “system” is really encapsulated from his writings.

This does not mean, however, that Word-Faith leaders are not teachers. Whatever they may see as their primary calling, when they regularly present teaching on matters of Christian belief, they make themselves teachers.2

Indeed, the work of WF royalty like Jakes and Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen regularly contains their teaching. Bowman then concludes:

In any case, at least some of these [WF preachers] do claim to be teachers. Kenneth Copelnad, who claims that his primary calling is to the ministry of a prophet, also claims to serve in the ministry of a teacher.

Thus it is perfectly appropriate to hold the Word-Faith teachers to a higher standard of doctrinal accuracy than we do persons in ministry who do not presume to teach doctrine (James 3:1).

As for the second objection, it is simply not true that the Word-Faith teachers have no theological system. The lack of a formal Word-Faith “systematic theology” does not mean that there is no structural or thematic unity in their teaching.3

These facts established, I want to highlight something I said in yesterday’s piece T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer teaching Word Faith “Little Gods” Doctrine. At the conclusion of that article I presented an exclusive short video clip from the longer documentary Word of Faith Teachers: Origins & Errors of Their Teaching.

During the clip you hear a number of WF preachers, including both T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer, systematically teaching the heretical view that because mankind was created by God we also share His divine nature. I also noted that we’ve seen no evidence Jakes and Meyer have publicly repudiated their blasphemy.

Now, the reason I did so was an attempt to try and sidestep an anticipated response from critics of my work and/or supporters of Jakes and Meyer who might say to me that for all I know they may have repented of those teachings by now. Of course, I personally do not believe they have, which is why I ran the clip.

In closing this, for now, I’m going to share my thesis on Word Faith teachers and their theology: Going back to the late 80’s through early 90’s, as discernment ministries began exposing their work, WF preachers got such push back on their ridiculous and heretical doctrine that they stopped teaching WF theology publicly.

Rarely today do we hear any real theology in WF preaching; and we certainly don’t whenever such as these are given a forum in more mainstream evangelical circles. For example, as he appears in evangelical leadership conferences T.D. Jakes tones his typical “show” way down. Back in his WF  habitat, however, is another story.

The same with Joyce Meyer when she’s teaching regularly on evangelical Christian radio networks.4 Leaving this aside, the vast majority of WF teaching you hear today is all quid pro quo legalism and self-help mumbo jumbo. Basically, WF teachers have since slithered their theology underground in order to avoid further scrutiny.

Which brings me to my final point for this piece, once these hyper-charismatic Word Faith preachers were relegated to the shadows at the very outskirts of the professing Christian community. However, this is just not so anymore e.g. Ravi Zacharias calls Word Faith Preacher Joyce Meyer “Such a great Bible teacher” God is Using.

I say that, with WF teachers now becoming more prominent within the heart of ostensibly conservative Christianity, the time’s come for you to demand that your evangelical leaders put pressure upon them to tell us publicly where they stand on doctrine and theology. Make such as these clarify what it is they believe and teach.

At the same time, some of us in this mission field of online apologetics and discernment ministry, who may be thus led, will need to start reeducating people concerning classic WF theology such as “positive confession,” i.e. words have creative power so one can speak out health and prosperity, faith as a force, and men are little gods.

One WF doctrine that’s particularly heinous is known as the “born again Jesus.” Briefly, it holds that Jesus died “spiritually as well as physically,” He “suffered in hell to complete his suffering for our sins,” He also supposedly “took on Satan’s nature,” He “became sin.” was “literally separated from God,” and then “born again in hell.”5

It was after all of this, goes the WF fable, that Jesus defeated the devil and rose from the dead. By the late 90’s all of this WF doctrine had been uncovered by Christian apologists. The truth is, before any of these Word Faith teachers are allowed into evangelical forums they need to answer publicly what it is that they personally believe.

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Rob Bowman, The Word-Faith Controversy [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2001], 28,29.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., emphasis his
  4. e.g. The Light Radio Networkhttp://thelightradio.net/?page_id=45, accessed 3/20/14.
  5. Bowman, op. cit., 164.