Question: “Is the Word of Faith movement biblical?”
Answer: Word of Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical. It is not a denomination and does not have a formal organization or hierarchy. Instead, it is a movement that is heavily influenced by a number of high-profile pastors and teachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Fred Price.
The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.
At the heart of the Word of Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will and that God Himself is subject to these laws. This is nothing short of idolatry, turning our faith—and by extension ourselves—into god.
From here, its theology just strays further and further from Scripture: it claims that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as little gods. Before the fall, humans had the potential to call things into existence by using the faith-force. After the fall, humans took on Satan’s nature and lost the ability to call things into existence. In order to correct this situation, Jesus Christ gave up His divinity and became a man, died spiritually, took Satan’s nature upon Himself, went to hell, was born again, and rose from the dead with God’s nature. After this, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to replicate the Incarnation in believers so they could become little gods as God had originally intended.
Joyce Meyer is a popular Pentecostal preacher living outside of St. Louis, MO, who has been in full time ministry since 1980. She is a best-selling author in the Christian market, and her books cover everything from America’s Christian heritage to weight-loss. But she is perhaps best known from her radio and television program, Life in the Word, both of which are broadcast nationally and internationally.
Meyer shares the platform from time to time with Word of Faith teachers like, for example, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn, and T.D. Jakes. CRI is critical of and concerned with some of her practices and teachings.
In her 1991 booklet, The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make, she teaches a hallmark doctrine of Faith theology, namely, that Christ had to suffer in hell to atone for our sins and be born again:
During that time He entered hell, where you and I deserved to go (legally) because of our sin…. He paid the price there.…no plan was too extreme…Jesus paid on the cross and in hell…. God rose up from His throne and said to demon powers tormenting the sinless Son of God, “Let Him go.” Then the resurrection power of Almighty God went through hell and filled Jesus…. He was resurrected from the dead ¾ the first born-again man.
Her assertions are not unlike those of leading Word of Faith proponent Kenneth Copeland, who also believes Christ’s death on the cross was not sufficient to atone for our sins, and that His work of redemption was completed by suffering in hell and being born again. According to Copeland,