Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 2: The Basics

I hope you’ve already read Part 1 of this series. If not, go ahead and read it. If you can still stand my writing after that, we’ll carry on from here.

If you read through the entire chat, you’ll see that I get a bit “fired up” over the whole idea of the “Word of Faith” theology. That’s because too many people treat it as Biblical, when it really is not.

Before I go deeper, though, allow me to describe what this movement believes. Of course, some may not accept all of this, and there are those who do not subscribe to the major points that still believe in “positive confession” and/or avoiding “speaking negative.” With God’s help, I’ll deal with those as well.

The foundation of this belief system comes from the first 2 chapters of Genesis. Chapter 1, of course, deals with the general creation of the universe. Genesis 1:3, for example, informs us that “God said, ’Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:6-7 continues with “God said, ’Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters …’ 7 And God made the expanse…” Genesis 1:3-27 continues the pattern of “God said … and it was so.”

Here’s where things start to go haywire, though. They emphasize the notion that God spoke, and what He commanded happened. They conclude, or otherwise use the pattern to prove, that God’s spoken word was the critical part in the act of creation. God’s creative power, in other words, came from His spoken word. To back this up, John 1:1-10 is used out of context, as it refers to the powerful “Word” that was present at creation.

The “power of the spoken word” provides a word study (no pun intended) of the word “word,” at least in the Greek. They note that there are 2 Greek words for “word:”
  • λόγος (logos, word #3056 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
  • ῥῆμα (rhema, word #4487 in Strong’s)
Both of these Greek words can be translated into the English word “word.” Consider, though, that The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon (© 1979, 1981), gives the equivalent of 2 whole pages for the former, and ½ page for the latter. Obviously the author considered the details to be of vital importance.

Logos is both the richer and harder to pin down of the two, as it is used extensively throughout the New Testament and the Septuagint, or the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Logos literally refers to “a collection,” but Thayer notes that it appears to have 3 distinct usages in the Bible. Generally speaking, it refers to an idea communicated by spoken language, such as a saying, or to a line of reasoning. Thayer also notes that John 1:1-10’s use of “Word” uses logos.

Rhema, often one of the key terms used in the movement, refers specifically to a series of spoken words, or the sound that is produced in speaking them. For some reason this is of vital importance to the Word of Faith. It’s so important that Kenneth Hagin named his university after it. One definition Thayer provides for one usage of this word is “utterance,” a word that just seems to sound holy to many people.

What we have so far, then, is that God used the sound of the spoken word (even before He created air, it seems) to cause creation to occur. Charles Capps, an author of many thin books on this ideology, claims there is direct power in the speaking, or that speaking the words “activates” a power that brings about what is spoken.

That power is given a name by Capps: Faith. A cursory glance at the word would make people think of a solid belief or a system of beliefs, but Capps and his cohorts take it well beyond that. Allow me, then, to refer to it as “Faith™”, with the little symbol by it, to distinguish it from the simpler, more common definition. (Curiously, Capps and the Kenneth’s do not refer to the single Greek word, πίστις or pistis (Strong’s #4102), that is usually, if not consistently, translated “faith” in the New Testament.) Since that power is activated by a specific kind of Word, namely the spoken rhema word, I'll also “trademark” their Word™.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll investigate how Faith™ differs from ordinary “faith,” and begin to expose just how Faith™ begins to supplant the sovereignty of God.

In closing, let me ask those of you who have dealt with the Word™ of Faith™ people: how do you explain to them why the spoken word is nothing special? For those of you who believe that the spoken word indeed holds or activates power, let me ask you this: what of the person who is temporarily or permanently mute? How does one who cannot speak, either at the moment (perhaps due to having the breath knocked out of them) or over a longer term, “activate” their Faith™?

(Let me remind everybody that comments need to remain civil. Explaining a different perspective is great. Saying someone is wrong just because you happen to disagree isn’t so great.)

For Part 3, click here.
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