Word of Faith: Erroneous Faith Theology

This entry is part 3 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

Wolves in Wool: Creeps in The Church, is the title of this series on false teachers and false doctrines. This study will be updated weekly, so be sure to subscribe for updates.

Part three:

Wolves in Wool 3 - Faith, the Omnipotent Entity from Jeff Kluttz on Vimeo.

(Notes below are scrollable)


Faith:  The Omnipotent Entity

Beyond the clearly unbiblical use of supposed revelation knowledge, the WOF teachers have an even more convoluted understanding of the definition of faith.  But, before entering the broken theological minds of the WOF teachers, one should establish well a truly biblical definition of exactly what “faith” is.

Faith defined biblically

Systematic biblical study produces a clear definition of what faith is, and how faith is practiced.  To begin, the Bible illustrates faith as something which must include two dimensions: belief and action.

Belief is demonstrated to be an element of faith clearly in the book of Hebrews.  Chapter eleven begins with a concise definition of faith, followed by examples of how faith unfolds in the lives of faithful men.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

The two operative terms in this definition, “sure” and “certain” both indicate the clear foundation of biblical faith, which is what would commonly be referred to as “belief.”  If one believes in something, he is sure of it and certain of it.  This understanding is fully confirmed in verse 6:

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Clearly, then, it is belief which verse one is referring to.  One must believe in order to have faith.

While this concise definition gives a profound understanding of belief as a fundamental element of faith,  most of the remainder of the chapter illustrates what the Bible considers true belief.  These illustrations do not equate true belief with someone “thinking” something really hard, but rather, for someone to believe something so fully that he is willing to act upon that belief.

For example, verse 4 notes,

Hebrews 11:4 (NIV)
4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.

Abel is considered faithful not because of his thinking, but because of his actions which were based upon his thinking.  He believed, therefore he offered a better sacrifice.

Similarly, in verse 17,

Hebrews 11:17 (NIV)
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,

Abraham, too, was not credited as faithful because of his thinking but rather because of his actions.  Abraham “offered Isaac as a sacrifice.”  It is clear in retrospect that God was testing Abraham’s faith by asking him to offer Isaac in sacrifice.  But the question must be asked, “was Abraham found faithful for thinking God meant what he said, or for being willing to act upon what God had said?”  Verse 17 clearly states the answer; “by faith Abraham…offered Isaac.”

And,

Hebrews 11:23 (NIV)
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

Had Moses parents only thought, or believed, that Moses was special and should be protected, he would have been struck down.  It was not their belief for which they are credited righteous, but rather, their action upon that belief.

While belief is a component of faith, it is not the full manifestation of faith.  Faith also requires action upon one’s belief, as James confirms.

James 2:19 (NIV)
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

Clearly there is also a form of belief that does not inspire one to action.  The demons believe in one God, but they do not take action upon that belief as those in Hebrews 11 did.  Thus, they are condemned.  While their beliefs are true, their actions are contrary to their belief.

The second element of faith, then, which is demonstrated in the examples of Hebrews 11, is the element of action.  James clarifies this fully:

James 2:14-17 (NIV)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Two terms in James’ statement indicate definitely that faith cannot be obtained by belief alone.  First, he asks what good is it if a man “claims” to have faith but has no deeds.  Clearly, James use of the term “claims” gives doubt to the idea that one can have genuine faith only be claiming to believe something.  He further clarifies with the second statement, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Dead things are inanimate.  They have ceased to exist.  They are not active nor viable.  James declares that faith without deeds is “dead” faith; it is not authentic or real living faith.

Understanding James’ statements, and Hebrews examples of faith in action, one can come to a biblical definition of faith.  Faith is belief to the point of action.  While some may have an element of belief, this belief may not be solidified to the point of inspiring them to act upon it.  In that case, they do not have faith.  Faith exists only when one is willing to step out on their belief.

If one is stranded on a high cliff, and is given a rope to escape with, his faith in the rope will be determined by whether or not he uses it.  If he is unwilling to trust the rope by actually climbing upon it, and putting his very life upon it, then he does not have faith- only a fledgling belief which does not merit being called faith.

Faith in Christ, likewise, is not someone merely believing he existed, or even that he truly was the Son of God, who he claimed to be.  Biblically, faith in Christ is defined by one’s actions upon their belief.

Romans 10 illustrates this principle.

Romans 10:9 (NIV)
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It is not enough to believe in your heart, but this belief must be accompanied by a confession making Jesus the Lord of oneself.  To truly believe Jesus was raised, and that Jesus is the Messiah is to commit one’s life to him as Lord, giving him the authority in one’s life which one’s belief demands.

Thus, biblical faith can be simply stated as belief to the point of action.  It is not a haphazard “I really think…” but a wholehearted “I believe and will live or die by it.”

The Object of Faith

Lastly, in order to fully understand the error of WOF teachings regarding faith, one must understand that faith has an object, much like love or hate.  One does not simply “love,” but one loves something.  One does not simply believe, but one has an object of that belief, which becomes the object of one’s faith when he acts upon that belief.  One may believe in Santa Clause, alien life forms or the Jolly Green Giant.  But, one does not simply “believe” without an object of that belief.  One believes in something.

If I have faith that a chair will hold me up, then I exercise faith by sitting in the chair.  In this case, my faith has an object: the chair.  I have faith in the chair. 

Biblical faith is demonstrated in Hebrews 11 the same way.  For example,

Hebrews 11:11 (NIV)
11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.

In this case, Abraham had an object to his faith, which was God.  He “considered him faithful who had made the promise.”  Because Abraham believed God, he acted in faith.  Likewise,

Hebrews 11:39 (NIV)
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

What they had been promised, was promised of God.  Thus, the object of their faith was God.  They did not have an action inspired by a belief in nothing, but a belief in something; God.

Faith has an object.  Faith is placed in something in every biblical example.  While this may seem a ridiculous oversimplification, the WOF teachers have not grasped this simple understanding of faith.  They indeed claim to believe that faith is an object of its own.

The False “faith” of WOF

Faith is an entity of its own

Contrary to biblical faith, WOF teachers proclaim that faith is an entity of its own.  It has best been defined by Ken Copeland’s statement “faith is a force.” 

WOF teachers teach that faith is likened to a magic potion.  When applied, this force of faith brings about miraculous things.  Understand:  it is not God as the object of one’s faith which brings about miraculous things, but faith itself. 

Kenneth Copeland, having taken the mantle from the late Kenneth Hagin, is a leading proponent of the “force of faith” perjury. 

“Faith is a spiritual force….It is substance. Faith has the ability to effect natural substance.”
Kenneth Copeland (Forces of the Recreated Human Spirit, 1982, 8)

In this statement, Copeland completely ignores the essence of faith which a six year old can comprehend: that faith has an object.  Faith is based on something.  Yet, in Copeland’s world view, faith “is substance” without an object.

“The force of gravity…makes the law of gravity work…this force of faith…makes the laws of the spirit world function.”
Kenneth Copeland (The Laws of Prosperity, 1974, 18-19)

Clearly  lacking the most basic grasp of abstract thought, Copeland relegates faith to a force in and of itself which “makes the laws of the spirit world function.”  To that end, faith is like fire, water or any other tangible object.  It has essence in and of itself.  This is not even remotely similar to the Bible’s depiction of belief to the point of action.

 

Faith is Greater than Even God

Had Copeland stopped with his maligning of language alone, one would only consider him delusional.  But, he doesn’t.  In his world, this force of faith is the greatest force in existence, even including the force of the power of almighty God himself.

“Faith is God’s source of power”
Kenneth Copeland (Freedom From Fear, 1983. p. 12)

God’s source of power?  How foolish we apparently are to have thought that God was all-powerful on his own accord.  In Copeland’s teaching, there is another higher than God himself, by which God somehow mystically draws his sustenance; the all-powerful force of faith.  If one follows this logic to its conclusion, then God is not God.  Faith is.  For it is faith which is the power source for what God is.  God, therefore, is somehow the beneficiary of this great force, which he harnessed and utilized to do the great things he has done.

“Faith was the raw material substance that the Spirit of God used to form the universe.”
Kenneth Copeland (Authority of the Believer II, 1987, audiotape #01-0302, side 1)

Exceptionally contrary to scripture, this teaching demands that faith is on a higher order than God himself.  The biblical God has no equal, let alone a superior.  He has no predecessor from which to draw his essence or his power.  He alone existed when nothing existed. 

Isaiah 43:10 (NIV)
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

To adhere to this teaching, one must accept that God himself has faith, that he used it to invoke the creation of all known matter.

 

Words are the Containers of The Force of Faith

As noted earlier, WOF teachers draw their false doctrines from one of two sources.  Their first choice is to damage scripture; misquoting and misrepresenting it.  When that fails, choice two is the aforementioned bogus use of revelation knowledge.  In this case, the former was attainable, by the maligning of Hebrews 11:2.  Ironically, this verse lies in the very middle of the text which properly was earlier demonstrated to illustrate a proper biblical definition of what faith is.  Yet, in the hands of WOF, even what scripture clearly says can be twisted to say the complete opposite.

Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

This text is clear enough to one who desires to interpret it.  It states that we exhibit faith when we understand that God formed the universe by his command.  Thus, our understanding comes from faith: “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command….”  In the WOF teachers rendering of the same text, the terms “we understand” are parenthetical.  By misquoting this verse, they end up with “by faith, we understand, that the universe was formed at God’s command….”  So, the faith in this text, according to WOF was God’s faith.  As they hear it, it should more properly be written “we understand that by faith God formed the universe by his command.”  In their warping of the phrase, it becomes faith which formed the universe.  And, in this warping of scripture, God’s word is that which releases his faith; “by faith… the universe was formed at God’s command.”

Lest anyone thing this study is attempting to misrepresent WOF doctrine, consider the following quotes:

“Now, God used faith substance to make everything that He made … in every one of those words they were filled with faith substance, because words are nothing but containers … every time God speaks, He can’t help but to speak words that are filled with faith … God’s guts are called faith stuff … Everything in Him is faith. What’s in His heart is faith … if you were to cut God open, you’d see nothing but faith. Every time He opens His mouth now, He automatically fills those words with His faith material.”
Creflo Dollar (Changing Your World Show, September 20, 1998)

“God did not create the world out of nothing, He used the Force of His Faith.”
Kenneth Copeland (Spirit, Soul, & Body, #01-0601, Tape #1)

The logical conclusion of this myth yields the WOF doctrine of words being the containers which wield the force of faith.  And, this idea is presented as “spiritual law.”  Words are said to simply have the power of faith within them; not only for God, but for anyone to use.  In this fantasy world, all of humanity has the power of the force of faith at their fingertips. 

“Words create pictures, and pictures in your mind create words. And then the words come back out your mouth….And when that spiritual force comes out it is going to give substance to the image that’s on the inside of you. Aw, that’s that visualization stuff! Aw, that’s that New Age! No, New Age is trying to do this; and they’d get somewhat results out of it because this is spiritual law, brother.”
Kenneth Copeland (Believer’s Voice of Victory, TBN, March 28, 1991)

Copeland concludes that even New Agers (eastern mystics) get results from visualizing and speaking faith-filled words, because it is a spiritual law.  In this case, the force of faith is not relegated to serve God alone, but anyone who has this secret knowledge.  Indeed, according to Benny Hinn, even the very incarnation of Christ was the result of the force of faith being uttered by the prophets.

“The Bible says the prophets spoke the Word not knowing what they were saying. But 4000 years passed when the Word became a human being and walked and talked and moved. The spoken Word became a human being. The spoken Word became flesh. The spoken Word got legs on, arms, eyes, hair, a body. And He was no longer saying, ‘Thus sayeth the Lord.’ He was saying, ‘I say unto you.’ The Word that was spoken through the lip [sic] of prophets was now walking on the seashore of Galilee”
Benny Hinn (TBN December 15 1990)

Jesus existed only as an image in the heart of God, until such time as the prophets of the Old Testament could positively confess Jesus into existence through their constant prophecies.
Kenneth Copeland (The Power of the Tongue, pp. 8-10)

 

Here, Hinn and Copeland not only credit the Old Testament prophets with the incarnation of Christ, but Hinn misuses John 1 to supposedly support his theory.  In John 1, “the Word” refers not to the spoken word of the prophets, but of God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

The Word of John 1 is personified.  It is not an impersonal force of faith, a “substance” according to their doctrine, but the person of Jesus Christ, pre-existent of all that has ever existed.  How treacherous to credit the incarnation of the pre-existent Christ to the word-faith of the prophets! 

 

Word-Faith in Daily Life

Finally, it must be understood that this supposed word of faith is the essence of many of the false teachings of this movement.  According to these teachers, the key to a prosperous life is to learn to use this mystical power of word-faith to create – just as God did- whatever one’s heart desires.

“By the spoken word we create our universe of circumstances….”
Paul Yonggi (David) Cho (Solving Life’s Problems, p. 51)

“You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth.”
Kenneth Copeland (Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2)

“Say to your body, ‘You’re whole, body! Why, you just function so beautifully and so well. Why, body, you never have any problems. You’re a strong, healthy body.’ Or speak to your leg, or speak to your foot, or speak to your neck, or speak to your back; and once you have spoken and believe that you have received, and don’t go back on it. Speak to your wife, speak to your husband, speak to your circumstances; and speak faith to them to create in them and God will create what you are speaking.”
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape, #186, side 2)

“What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, “You big, thick billfold full of money.” Speak to your checkbook. Say, “You, checkbook, you. You’ve never been so prosperous since I owned you. You’re just jammed full of money.”
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape #186, side 2)

“It’s what you say to yourself that gets you healed. If you say that you won’t be healed, you won’t be healed. If you say that you are broke, you will stay broke. Oh! But I came to serve notice on the Devil. The Bible says, ‘The power of life and death is in the tongue.’ Slap somebody and say, ‘You better speak to yourself.’ “
T.D. Jakes, “Seize The Moment”, Woman Thou Art Loosed, 2000 Atlanta, Georgia

 You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words.  God works by laws
Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004

Fear is a force just like faith is a force.  If you give into fear and start to dwell on that junk and start to act on it, that fear can actually bring things to pass just like faith can bring things to pass.  Job said, ‘the thing I greatly feared came upon me.”
Joel Osteen, Sermon, VL-007, April 30, 2000

These quotes are a mere foreshadowing of the great heights to which these teachers claim the word of faith can take those who speak it.

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