PENTECOSTALISM'S WORD OF FAITH HERESY
By Rev. Ted Pike
14 Aug 13
Editor's Note: This is an edited version of the recorded Bible study under this title at Truthtellers.org.
In my article "Pentecostalism’s Health, Wealth and Miracles Scam” I said tens of millions of Pentecostal evangelicals believe one of God’s greatest pleasures is showering Christians with material wealth. The "word of faith" theology used to justify such materialism says believers through their words have power to actualize material blessings.
Pentecostal Bible teacher and critic of "word of faith" Rev. Rafael D. Martinez says it teaches:
…that God has divinely invested Christians through the New Covenant [with] the same creative ability through verbal utterance of "faith-filled words, observing from the verse that "God, who quickeneth the dead, .. calleth those things which be not as though they were" and concluding that this is a divine pattern expanded upon by Jesus in Mark 11:22 as a revelation that God exercises a degree of divine faith which Christians should emulate, so that whoever "shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."
Since God must use faith to accomplish His will in the universe, Christians can be His co-creators, empowered by the same word/faith dynamic God employs. Word of faith leader Kenneth Copeland's position statement is representative of this teaching:
When your words are words of faith, God will be able to trust you with His power in the words of your mouth. What you speak, good and bad, is what you will receive. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). For your words to be so powerful that they cause things to come to pass, they must have the force of faith behind them - you must believe in your heart. Your mouth will speak what is put into your heart.
Martinez says if word of faith were true,
…then the nature of faith itself has been effectively and decisively redefined in a completely unbiblical manner… if it is true that one's words can cause "things to come to pass" by deciding, decreeing and then declaring what one expects to happen in their lives… then faith itself has nothing to do with trust in God's Scripturally defined promises and power. Faith has been turned into a matter of personal mastery over spiritual laws that even God Himself must exercise perfect faith in to accomplish his will. It then becomes a matter of exercising mental powers to physically manifest mind pictures, a process hardly any different then pagan magick.
What Martinez describes is not legitimate Biblical interpretation. It is radical exaltation of human creative powers to a level almost equal with God's, something never hinted by Scripture. It is heresy.
Of course, there is tremendous power in believing God will grant our requests if it is His will. This was exemplified in Jesus’ request that He might be spared the bitter cup of crucifixion. Yet He said, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
God does promise to answer our prayers according to the measure of our faith. Yet our faith in itself does not produce answered prayers! It is God reciprocating to our prayer of faith who, according to His own strategies and foreknowledge, decides if giving us what we ask is what He thinks best.
The word-faith heresy argues that Jesus the Word spoke and the heavens were created, so we must wrap words and repeated affirmations around our petitions to God. As a result, we will be blessed with a material galaxy of health, wealth and miracles, and the wonderful "destiny" God has in store for every Christian.
Yes, Jesus the Logos spoke the universe into being. The word “logos” in New Testament Greek means “the logic.” Jesus is the Logic behind all creation. His creativity was not empowered by language but by His permission and intelligent powers. In the same way, He gives us what we need and ask for, not because of any technique we have for getting our prayers answered. He answers according to whether our requests are in His will. Yet word-faith quickly replies that if our requests are Biblical they are by definition the will of God.
Jesus inspired the Bible as a reflection of Himself as the Word of God. (Rev. 19:13) The Bible constitutes the inspired words of Jesus but is properly called the Holy Scriptures, not the Word of God. Only Jesus, not the book He wrote about Himself, can open the windows of heaven; and we must pray from a heart void of self-will. Even Jesus said He could do no mighty work because of the presence of self-will in His hearers.
Word of Faith Encourages "Vain Repetition"
Word-faith teachers also stress the importance of repetition of faith phrases. Jesus warned his church to avoid pagan repetition. He says, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7-8) Christ warns Catholics today that the endless Hail Mary's that drone on Catholic radio are both pagan and useless.
Paul prayed three times that his thorn in the flesh might be healed. God finally replied by basically saying, “I heard you the first time, and the answer is still no. I want to be glorified by your affliction, proving to all generations that my strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Cor. 12:9) After a reasonable amount of entreaty, it is also possible for us as Christ's spiritual bride to ascertain the mind of our spiritual husband, Jesus. Paul says we are not to be ignorant of God's general intentions, "but we have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor. 2:16)
The Book of Acts records a slave girl with the power of divination who began crying out repetitiously, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16:17) What a powerful recommendation for Christian evangelists in a pagan city! But, gradually, Paul perceived such vocalizations as the work of a demonic spirit of fanaticism. Surely any truly Spirit-filled Christian can recognize that spirit of confusion in the repetitious affirmations and babbling in tongues of Pentecostalism.
Recently I watched word-faith guru Joyce Meyer on Trinity Broadcasting as she exhorted a coliseum full of women to repeat the phrase, “God is working, God is working.” She said the more it is repeated the better, since such endless affirmations will supercharge your spirit that God is moving everything forward concerning the solution of all your problems. Also, “you will get more,” she said, in terms of material benefits from Him by such repetitions. Since, according to Meyer, it is largely up to us to activate that divine flow of gifts from God, it is essential to repeat the most powerful affirmations with the highest proven ability to persuade God. Meyer says she has only recently come up with the phrase “God is working” and believes it is one of her most effective, largely “because it is simple.” This leads to the question: Will she write yet another blockbuster book, focusing on this technique of how to get answered prayer? Will she make even more millions providing what amounts to incantations guaranteed, if repeated enough, to open the fountains of heaven? In reality, just remembering and repeating all her recommended word-faith Bible verses and phrases is a recipe for exhaustion, not blessing and spiritual rest.
The Christian is married to Christ and part of His spiritual bride, the Church. Can you imagine a married couple whose relationship was so insecure they had to affirm night and day that they really were in love or, even more, repeat all the references to love in the Bible in order to have a rich and fulfilling relationship? Such requirement would soon destroy all relaxed and spontaneous feelings. The marriage could be destroyed. Surely, God cannot wish that His bride nag Him in endless petition and affirmation. Scripture says, "The servant of the Lord must not strive." (II Tim. 2:24) Instead, after reasonable petition to God, if we rest quietly and abide in Him He promises to reveal His will and answer in His time and way.
"Word of Faith" has Pagan Roots
The idea that words and even letters of the alphabet have creative magical powers is fundamental to the occult. In black magic, correct pronunciation of particular words and phrases is key to invoking demonic assistance, casting spells and working miracles. When the Jews went into Babylonian exile under Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century BC, their spiritual leaders, the proto-Pharisees, absorbed Babylonian doctrines concerning magical powers of numbers, letters, words and phrases. Out of such occult lore, the oral tradition of the Pharisees was constructed, resulting in the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud says God created the worlds through the power of His ineffable name, called the tetragrammaton. If spoken correctly by a human being, another universe could be created. To keep that from happening, Orthodox Jews do not write the word "God" in its entirety but place a hyphen over the middle letter (G-d). Magical use of Judaism's Kabbalah involves manipulating the letters and words of the "sacred" Hebrew alphabet. Kabbalists believe curses upon enemies of Judaism, as well as acquisition of fantastic wealth, power and success, belong to those who master the power of the Hebrew alphabet and holy name.
The word-faith doctrine similarly teaches repetition of words and phrases of the Bible creates a spiritual catalyst that releases explosive divine power, resulting in health, wealth and miracles from on high. This is like Buddhist priests in Tibet who turn their prayer wheels, believing their mechanistic rotation night and day has spiritual advocacy. Similarly, they believe brightly colored pendants and flags blowing in strong winds high on the Himalayan slopes create spiritual power.
It is clear from such pagan examples that the word of faith heresy is a form of paganism. It has much more affinity to witchcraft, Kabbalah and Eastern and Babylonian occultry than to authentic New Testament Christianity. Trinity Broadcasting Network, now with 26 major worldwide networks and a listening audience of many hundreds of millions, is the primary evangelist of word-faith teaching.
Unfortunately, most Pentecostals are unresponsive to criticism from non-tongues-speaking believers, convinced they do not have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Should critical voices in the Pentecostal wilderness, such as Martinez, remain to rebuke and reform the charismatic movement from within? Or should they abandon this heretical version of Christianity, heeding the Scriptural command, "Come out from her, my people, lest ye be taken in her sins." (Rev. 18:4)
Of one thing we are sure: TBN is leading Pentecostals to re-create "Christianity" in the decades to come according to pagan values.