Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 6: The Word of Faith vs. The Word of God!

As always, allow me to provide links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the series so far.

In this post, I want to deal once and for all with the Word™ of Faith™ heresy. I've described so far how this group believes that the spoken word, whether it be a Biblical quotation or something based on it, uttered in what they consider to be faith, activates a creative power in each of us, since we are all made in the image of God.

Previous articles in this series have dealt with these beliefs, and how they compare to what the Bible actually says in context. The final issue to address here is in the power of the spoken word. This idea that the words must be spoken to be effective is unusual, to say the least. It has always made me wonder about the mute, the person with a tracheotomy stoma before technology allowed him to speak again, or even the person with laryngitis. Then again, I suppose those people just didn't have enough Faith™ to speak against their illnesses and disabilities while they still could.

Yeah, that sounds like a merciful and grace-filled God.


The Bible does speak of the importance of communicating the gospel to everybody. It takes courage to say out loud that you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord (or LORD, to use the term some translations use to represent the actual name of God), especially in areas that are hostile to any belief system other than the "official" one … areas such as the United States, steeped as it is in the belief of naturalistic "science" and "tolerance" of anything except Christ. (Of course, we are hardly persecuted compared to other parts of the world … at least as of this writing.)

There's nothing significant that I can see, though, about the actual sounds emitted from our throats. If it were, I'd have to wonder if we were using the correct language, or if Faith™ is intelligent enough to speak whatever language we speak.

I have to agree with what some writers claim. Consider †his: the practice of speaking certain words out loud to summon powers outside of ourselves comes not from Scripture, but from the occult! To think that "confessing" Bible verses mandates that God or Faith™ must act upon them is significantly closer to the idea of the mystical incantation, the "open sesame" for the magic door or the "abra cadabra" that enables genie-like forces to work.

Naturally the practitioners of the spoken confession know better than to "confess" that their practices so closely resemble witchcraft. Even they know that they cannot admit to that without somebody seeing through their ruse. Instead, they insist that their way is the way, and threaten those who would come against them or their teaching.

The problem is that, one day, they will see another word, the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-10) who promised no genie to come on command, but Who will one day judge these people for turning their backs on Him and His spoken words, choosing instead the lying angel that Kenneth Copeland claims to hear from. (I still say that could be true, as long as we recognize that a third of the angels chose to go with the devil in rebellion against God.)

Consider †his: our salvation is not in the spoken Word™ of Faith™ that makes promises it cannot keep, then blames our failure of Faith™ to cover up its own lie. Our salvation is in the Almighty Word of God, Jesus Christ! In Him we can do all things (Philippians 4:10-13). He is before all things, and in Him — not our Faith™ —all things hold together (Colossians 1:17)! The substance of worship belongs to Christ; let no one disqualify you, insisting on … worship of angels, going on in details … and not holding fast to the Head, which is Christ! (Colossians 2:8-23)

Let's be honest, though. Don't we all from time to time use a pre-written "prayer," rather than talk with God using our own words? Don't we all from time to time quote a verse out of context, or utter the phrase "in the name of Jesus," as if it brought about some sort of power? I still find myself stumbling down that path. Is that any less of an "incantation?" Perhaps if it reminds us of Whose we are … but, no, I have to be honest with myself here. I fall into that same trap.

As I researched for this specific post, I came across several links to other sites that have more to say on the subject. Rather than plagiarize from them, allow me to close with links to them. Then, in true faith in Christ, pray and repent of any connection to the occult you may inadvertently have caused by believing in "positive confession" or the Word™ of Faith™.

I know I will.

The links are:
For Part 7, click here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 5: The Truth About Faith

For the record, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series.

So, finally, we get to the Christian “f-word” — faith! In earlier parts of this series, I have been disgusted with discussed what I’ve called “Faith™,” the trademark symbol representing the false faith that the Word™ of Faith™ movement pushes on folks. For those just coming in, three of the big talkers in the Word™ of Faith™ movement are Kenneth Hagin and his Rhema school, Kenneth Copeland, and Charles Capps; from their names come my punny title for the series. Oh, and the trademark symbol after Word™? It represents the all-important “spoken word” idea that I’ll be covering in the appropriately-numbered Part 6 of the series.

So what is faith? Do a word search on “faith” on Bible Gateway or any other Bible-related search page, and you’ll get tons of references, depending on the translation you search. Be careful, though! Satan knows how to take Scripture out of context, as he does when taking the verses on faith and using them to support the kind of Faith™ that dethrones God and tries to place us alongside of Him!

First, let’s look at how a modern dictionary, in this case an edition of the Oxford Dictionary, defines faith:
1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something : this restores one’s faith in politicians
2 strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. 
  • a system of religious belief : the Christian faith
  • a strongly held belief or theory : the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.
I personally have some issues with definition #2, especially the “spiritual apprehension rather than proof” idea, but I’ll deal with that later. Instead, I’d define “faith” as something like this: faith is a deep-seated belief that fosters complete trust in the person or thing in which that faith is placed.

That brings up a few important qualities about faith. First, faith isn’t alone; one has to have faith in someone or something. Second, faith in the wrong person or thing does not guarantee that it becomes real. Finally, faith can change how we look at things.

Here’s where atheists and anti-theists can start getting flaky. We all have some sort of faith in some sort of idea. That’s how our minds work. Students of deductive reasoning should know that any set of deduction, or proof of a theory, must start with some set of “givens.” These are ideas that are accepted as true, or are the results of previous lines of reasoning. For example, I assume that what I’m typing right now will be published on my blog once I hit the “Publish” button. That comes, in part, from past experience, from reading the instructions (yes, I’m a guy and I read the instructions first … well, usually), and from assuming that the system is working “properly.” On the other hand, I’m a software engineer. I know that Blogger doesn’t always work “properly.” Since I can’t tell until I try, I assume that I’ll be able to recover this if I need to, thanks to Blogger claiming it is saving periodically. (Again, though, that’s having faith in the little “Save” button that changes to “Saving…” all on its own once in a while.)

Regarding God and/or things beyond the natural, I assume — I have faith — that all natural things do not necessarily compose the entirety of existence. To put it another way, I don’t have faith that the only things that exist are the natural. That’s where I differ from many atheists and anti-theists. They want “proof,” rather than faith. I say, though, that there is no “proof” that they can accept because it violates their faith in the lack of the supernatural, or their faith in the non-existence of anything that cannot be proven using their methods and their assumptions or “givens.”

Did you see something important in that last paragraph? My faith in God makes Him no more real than the atheist’s faith against God! God is either real, or He is not. My belief doesn’t affect that, nor does the atheist’s belief. There is no inherent power in the faith of either one of us to create or destroy God.

On the other hand, my faith in God allows me to accept the gifts He gives me (Romans 5:1-2), which includes faith in Him (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 2:1-10). That allows me to do so much more through Him. He who has faith in himself alone has nothing else to stand on. In that sense, then, my faith gives me different abilities. On the other hand, the atheist who has faith only in the natural will see a similar advantage from her point of view. Each one’s faith, then, gives us the courage — and perhaps even the power — to see, hear, and do a variety of different things that we wouldn’t do otherwise.

The Word™ of Faith™ movement claims that God used “His Faith™” to speak things into existence. True faith doesn’t do that. In fact, God needs no faith! How can an all-knowing being have faith? He already knows what we will do, and He knew it before Eve plucked the forbidden fruit from the tree and passed some on to Adam. He knew the stupid mistakes and evil desires of our hearts when Jesus was nailed to the cross for them! God is not human, needing faith. We are not gods, knowing all. God doesn’t need us, but we need the living Word of God (John 1:1-10)!

This is just the nutshell version of what true faith in God is all about. It makes no sense to the mind of the person who insists that there is no God. It didn’t make sense to me while I made that choice … while I had faith in the naturalistic ideas forming the foundation of current scientific “knowledge.” It didn’t make sense to me until He opened my eyes and challenged my assumptions … my faith without Him.

What will it take to allow you to Consider †his?

For Part 6, click here.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 4: The True Image of God

Just as a reminder, this is part 4 in a series. Click on these links for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In this part, I want to deal with one of the two factors that the Word™ of Faith™ movement gets wrong: the image of God. As I mentioned earlier, part of the power behind the heresy is that, since we are create “in the image of God,” then we must be like God. At this point they carry it so far as to claim that we have the same power through Faith™ that God does. (The earlier parts will explain why I put the little “trademark” symbol after the word “faith” when referring to what they call “faith,” and a similar mark for “word.” A future installment will deal with faith vs. Faith™ in greater detail.)

First, I’d like to refer you to one of my favorite sites,, and their response to the question, “What does it mean that man is made in the image of God?” While this doesn’t cover everything I want to address, it provides a good starting point.

There are several issues to deal with when talking about man being made in the image of God:
  1. What, exactly, does “the image of God” mean?
  2. What does the “image of God” not include?
  3. Are we still in the image of God?
The first point is: What, exactly, does “the image of God” mean? The Hebrew word translated “image” in Genesis 1:26-27 refers to a shade, a phantom, an illusion, a resemblance, or a representative figure, “especially an idol” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. This could, therefore, refer to God’s physical appearance, or something similar to it. In modern terms, a photograph, painting, statue, or digital image (note the word) could apply. In modern usage we can also refer to someone as the “image” of a relative. For example, if a son looks exactly like his father did at the son’s present age, we can say that the boy is an “image” of his dad.

Genesis 1:26-27 also refers to “likeness” in many translations. The Hebrew word is related to the word for “resemblance.” It can also refer to a model or shape. The same type of arguments mentioned above apply here as well. A likeness is even less concrete than an image. Again, though, something with the same shape as a dog, for example, isn’t a dog.

The point often made regarding the “image of God,” though, comes from John 4:24, where we are told that God is spirit. “Spirit” here can refer to the breath of life; the Greek word, in fact, is the root of our word “pneumatic,” as in something that is inflated with air. Genesis 2:7 says that man, unique among the other creatures, was given the “breath of life;” some translations complete the sentence saying that man became a “living spirit.” Again, this says nothing about power or abilities, only that we, like our Creator, are also spirit.

The second point to look at is: What does the “image of God” not include? As we saw earlier, an “image” or “likeness” is not necessarily a full replica of the original. Can a photograph of you do everything you can do? No, it cannot. It cannot move. It cannot speak. It cannot do your homework. It cannot fill in for you at work. It cannot love, hate, breathe, or die. An image does not necessarily have the same abilities as the original. The son that is the “spitting image” of his dad cannot necessarily do everything his parent can do, because the boy may not be old enough or not properly trained the same way that his dad was. The father’s abilities aren’t automatically passed on to the son.

The third point is: Are we still in the image of God? I believe this is the most important point in the whole discussion. Adam was made in the image and likeness of God. Since Eve came from Adam, she was also made in His image (which doesn’t mean that God is somehow both male and female, by the way). Like God, they were sinless. Unlike God, though, they had the ability to sin. And sin they did! Once Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, they both saw that they were naked, and they both became self-absorbed. Genesis 3:14-24 record the consequences of their sin. They had separated themselves from God. They hid from God; God didn’t hide from them! There would be pain, sweat, and death in their future and that of their offspring. What’s curious is that God said that they had become more like Him after eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:22). No matter what, the image had changed.

With all of that in mind, the final question arises: do we have the same creative power that God has? I have to conclude that no, we do not have the same power to create something from nothing. We do not have the power to “speak what is not as if it were.” Even if God had to depend on Faith™ to create, mankind does not necessarily have that same ability now, if we ever did.

I am not saying that we do not have God-given gifts! John 14:1-14 says that we will do greater deeds than even Jesus Himself did before His death, resurrection, and ascension. John 15:1-11 tells us, though, that we can do nothing apart from Him. It doesn’t say that we need Faith™! It doesn’t say that we are connected to Faith™ through speaking His words; the seven sons of Sceva can attest to that (Acts 19:11-20).

As I continue this series, I want to deal, of course, with the true meaning of faith, and how it actually connects to the power of God. I also want to show some of the history of the Word™ of Faith™ movement, and how it is little more than occult practices wrapped up in a Christian wrapper.

How would you answer the questions I pose? Are we still in the image of God? What does that mean to you?

For Part 5, click here.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 3: The Idol and The Image

This is the third part in a series on a great heresy that has permeated the thought processes of too many Christians. Part 1 provides the basics in a chat I had with a friend, whom I’m calling “Bobbi Sue.” Part 2 starts dealing with some of the belief system involved. In there I refer to something I’ve chosen to call “Faith™” … the little “trademark” symbol is there to represent what they refer to as “faith,” as opposed to the more common definitions of the term, including the Bible.

So what is faith? References to faith occur throughout the Bible. We are saved by grace through faith that doesn’t even come from us, so that we cannot even brag about that (Ephesians 2:8). Faith allows us to persevere, assured that what we do not see right now or that we hope will happen will be there, if not something even better (Hebrews 10:32-12:2). Faith gave courage to those who were in dire straits in the world — those who were poor, literally beaten down, and without any earthly hope (Hebrews 11:32-40). Faith even gave people like Moses the courage to go against the “good life” of being a Prince of Egypt to do what God had called him to do (Hebrews 11:23-27)!

So what is Faith™? I almost wish I still had some of Charles Capps’ books handy, so I could cite passages to you that should make you fear for his very soul. Faith™ is the creative power “activated” by our rhema (see Part 2 for more details) — our actual spoken words, which I’m calling the Word™. Faith™ does what we command, if we believe without any doubt! Faith™ permits no questioning of its existence, its abilities, or its availability. Faith™ is within all of us, and it is our “responsibility” to bring it to life and effect those changes we are told are necessary to be made on this planet. Faith™ requires our spoken word to work, and it requires a complete absence of doubt! If what we speak does not come to pass, then our Faith™ was inadequate. (How that fits in with Deuteronomy 18:20-22 is, it seems, another story.) Faith™ doesn’t fail; we fail with our lack of Faith™.

Perhaps the most chilling part of the whole discussion, to me, was when Capps started discussing Genesis 1’s account of creation. As I mentioned in the previous part of this series, God used His spoken word to create the universe. Capps goes way out on a limb by saying that “God used His Faith™ to bring the universe into existence!” What does this say to you?

This says to me that God is not all-powerful! It says that God had to use a power limited in its powerfulness by the “spoken word” to do something He apparently could not do on his own!

The bigger connection, though, comes with a wild interpretation of Genesis 1:26-27. There it refers to God making “man” (“male and female” “man,” so don’t freak out, ladies) “in his [God’s] own image.” The exact meaning of this phrase has been a bone of contention for centuries. The bottom line, though, is that the Word™ of Faith™ teachers claim this means that mankind has exactly the same power as God! We were created “in His image,” therefore we must be so much like Him that we can do everything He can.

This means, according to these teachers, that each one of us can use our Faith™ to bring things into existence, to “speak [into existence] that which is not [in existence]!” It also means that, since we have sinned, we can also speak negative things, such as illness or decay or death, into existence!

In other words, we are effectively “little gods!”

In summary, then, these false teachers inform us that God is subservient to His portion of power known as Faith™, which He used to create everything in the universe. This brings God down from His topmost point. Since we are made in the “image of God,” we can do all this, too. This brings us up to the level of God.

Does anyone else see any problem here?

As we continue in this series, I intend to show just what true faith is, why we don’t have the power of God, and where our place is in God’s kingdom. That’s a tall order, but that’s what I sense God calling me to do in this series. I ask you to pray for me as I continue writing.

Let me end this with the same question I’ve posed before: if you don’t accept that Faith™ is what it’s claimed to be, how do you discuss this with those who believe otherwise? Have you had any successes in showing people the error? I’ve tried to include an additional question for those who subscribe to the Word of Faith or Positive Confession movement, but this time I honestly can’t think of one other than: how can you honestly think that usurping God’s rule comes from any place other than Hell?

For Part 4, click here.

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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