July/august 2013 The Word of Faith/Positive Confession – as applied to prosperity and healing

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The Word of Faith/Positive Confession – as applied to prosperity and healing

 If the New Age movement is the greatest threat to evangelical Christianity from without, the word-faith/positive confession movement is its greatest threat from within. This is not entirely true. The Word of Faith movement IS the New Age movement... with a few Christian terms and concepts sprinkled in for to keep it believable.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel to you other than what we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8.

I have heard it said... that if the New Age movement is the greatest threat to evangelical Christianity from without, the Word-Faith/Positive Confession movement is its greatest threat from within. This is not entirely accurate. The Word of Faith movement IS the New Age movement... with a few Christian terms and concepts sprinkled in to keep it believable. It is a not an honest doctrinal difference among orthodox believers, but a confrontation between the gospel preached by the Lord Jesus Christ and another gospel. The Prosperity Doctrine (also known as the Health and Wealth gospel or the prosperity gospel) is nothing but the Word-Faith/Positive Confession movement... applied to finances. Healing ministries are all too often the Word-Faith/Positive Confession doctrine applied to healing.
Does God Want Us To Be Rich?


It is deeply alarming that most Christians seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the principles of the Word-Faith movement being trumpeted from pulpits across the land, not only stems from the same occult sources as the spiritual movement known as "New Thought", but uses exactly the same terminology and techniques. The non-believing world claims that there are spiritual "laws" which people can learn to use on their behalf. However the Word Faith group, claiming to be Christian, have to somehow "Christianize" the concepts and add God into the mixture. But since the Biblical God does not fit this mold, they completely reinvent Him in an image that conforms to their beliefs, teaching that the power of faith is a force… one that can even twist God's arm.  This in spite of the fact that a) there are no clear examples of Positive Confession in the Scriptures, b) The texts quoted over and over again by the Word of Faith teachers are usually taken way out of context and therefore do not prove their point, c) The Scriptures refute the general principles behind the beliefs and teachings of the Prosperity Doctrine camp and d) The teaching that believers are to confess rather than to pray for things which God has promised is contradicted by the Bible. But make no mistake... the secular world, by learning and applying certain principles, can and does match, or even exceed, the gain that "Christian" ministers promise. And we are to believe that this is from God?

Section I

Introduction and Origins

What is the Prosperity Doctrine?
The Prosperity Doctrine (also known as the health and wealth gospel or the prosperity gospel) is nothing but the Word-Faith/Positive Confession movement... applied to finances.

It is the doctrinal belief subscribed to by millions of Christians, centered around the idea that although Christians should keep one eye on Heaven, the good news is that God doesn't want His people to wait until then to inherit His blessings. God, who loves His followers, doesn't want those followers to be broke. He wants believers to wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything in this life, provided they claim these blessing for themselves through positive confessions of faith and the 'sowing of seeds' (tithes and offerings).

'Positive and Negative Confession'

Since, according to this view, what a person says determines what he will receive and what he will become, great significance is attached to the spoken word which, if repeated often enough, will produce enough faith to procure the desired blessing.

On the other hand, the believer who acknowledges the negative is guilty of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words he will be sick only if he confesses he is sick, and will be poor if he confesses he is poor. Prosperity teachers instruct believers to start confessing that they already have whatever it is that they want, even though it has not yet become a reality. If a person wants money, he is to confess that he has money even if he is yet poor as the proverbial church mouse. If he wants healing he has to confess that he is already healed even though he may yet be unable to get out of his wheelchair.

Although Prosperity theology is most commonly found in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, it is certainly not confined to any denomination, but has wormed it's way, to one extent or another, into a huge number of evangelical churches. Very few of these churches actually seem to have the word prosperity in their Statements of Faith or Mission Statements, however material gain is a key part of their doctrine and they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about it.

While it is understandable that money is of much importance to governments (a whole other topic), the reason to exist for corporations and a major concern to secular society at large, the fact that the accumulation of it is the core doctrine of so many evangelical churches is a cause for great concern. That Christians are being taught that the poor among us are poor because they lack faith, that poverty is of the devil or, even worse, giving you last dollar to a fast talking ‘tele-evangelist’ will guarantee getting 100 fold back.

Certainly this doctrine has much going for it in the realm of marketability. Who doesn't want, at the very least, a life free of problems and ill health? Financial freedom, prosperity, health and success can seem very enticing indeed. And, what better way could there possibly be to get all these wonderful things we want than by evoking the power of the Living God to obtain them. How easy it is to fall into the age-old trap of seeking to satisfy our own lusts using ‘Biblical’ precepts and finding ways to prove that, in fact, God supports our desires.

Does God Want You to Be Rich?
The sheer number of churches preaching the Prosperity doctrine, and the size of some of those involved, drew the attention of Time Magazine not so long ago. Their September 2006 cover story called “Does God Want You to Be Rich?" featured a picture of a Rolls Royce grille with a chrome cross hood ornament, which was described by Albert Mohler (ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky) as "fair, balanced, and devastating". Time Magazine stated that, according to their own poll...

17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%--a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America--agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money. [1]

The write-up begins with a story about one George Adams who lost his job at an Ohio tile factory in October of 2005. Upon which "the most practical thing he did" was "go to a new church", moving his family, including four preteen boys, to a suburb of Houston from where he attended Joel Osteen's mega Lakewood Church.

Inspired by the preacher's insistence that one of God's top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime--and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less--Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work.

And, to cut a long story short, it wasn't long before Adams retailed his first car and was soon on his way to a six-figure income. The sales commission helped pay the rent, but as the story goes…

Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: "Twenty-five acres," he says. "And three bedrooms. We're going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle." [2]

Origins of the Prosperity Gospel
In the words of journalist Hanna Rosin

Many of the terms and concepts used by prosperity preachers today date back to Oral Roberts, a poor farmer's son turned Pentecostal preacher... In the late 1940s, Roberts claimed his Bible flipped open to the Third Epistle of John, verse 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health. Even as thy soul prospereth.”

Soon Roberts developed his famous concept of seed faith, still popular today. If people would donate money to his ministry, a "seed" offered to God, he’d say, then God would multiply it a hundredfold. Eventually, Roberts retreated into a life that revolved around private jets and country clubs. [3]

Oral Roberts was soon followed by a parade of slick, silver-tongued, ostentatious preachers on Christian television, not the least of whom were Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. However, like most or all heresies, it went underground for a while. Then spurred on by a host of wolves on TBN, and books such as Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now (reputed to have sold some four million copies), the movement rapidly made its way from "out in left field" into more conservative mainstream churches and denominations.

New Thought
While there is no question that Oral Roberts, one of the most recognizable and controversial religious leaders of the 20th century, was instrumental in bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream, the Positive Confession doctrine did not originate with him, but has it's roots deep in the world of the occult...New Thought or Science of Mind to be precise.

Kenneth Hagin:

The founding father of the Faith movement is commonly held to be Kenneth Erwin Hagin, who's teachings on faith, healing, and prosperity have underscored almost every major Faith ministry. Even the other heavyweights of the Faith movement readily admit that Hagin's teaching and leadership was the key to both the success of the movement and their own personal success. However Hagin's theology can be traced directly to one Kenyon, whose writings predate Hagin's by more than thirty years. As said by D.R. McConnell in his book From A Different Gospel... Hagin "plagiarized Kenyon both repeatedly and extensively". In fact "In many instances, Hagin has, indeed, copied word-for-word without documentation from Kenyon's writings". Mr. McConnell shows any number of passages which are identical between Kenyon and Hagin's books. Excerpts of the book including some comparisons can be read at the following URL... The True Father of the Modern Faith Movement. http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar51.htm

However one has to dig a little further.. If Kenneth Hagin, the father of the faith movement extensively plagiarized E.W. Kenyon, the question has to be asked as to where Kenyon learned his theology. Sadly it was not the Bible and only the Bible.

E.W. Kenyon:

In 1892, E.W. Kenyon moved to Boston, soon thereafter he enrolled at Emerson College of Oratory, by which time the religion of its founder Charles Emerson "was a veritable smorgasbord of the sources underlying New Thought metaphysics: Platonism, Swedenborgianism, Unitarianism, and Emersonian Transcendentalism.” In fact Charles Emerson is on record as being a member of the Mother Church of Christian Science from 1903 to 1908. As said by pastor David Cloud...

Though Kenyon claimed to be opposed to the New Thought cults and though he claimed to derive his teaching strictly from the Bible, there is no question that he incorporated many New Thought ideas into his doctrine. Like New Thought, Kenyon taught that the spiritual is the cause of all physical effects and that positive confession has the power to create its own reality. [4].

And what is New Thought?

While the majority of people may be unable to define New Thought, hundreds of thousands are increasingly becoming influenced by it, since it is the cornerstone for most of the formulas for happy and successful living. Wikipedia defines it so... (Note that this exactly same definition can be found on numerous New Thought web sites. See List of New Thought denominations and independent centers on Wikipedia)

The New Thought Movement or New Thought is a spiritual movement which developed in the United States during the late 19th century and emphasizes metaphysical beliefs. It consists of a loosely allied group of religious denominations, secular membership organizations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of metaphysical beliefs concerning the effects of positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization, and personal power.

Reduced it to its essentials, New Thought very simply believes that your thoughts play a crucial role in the kind of life you experience.

Sound familiar?

It is deeply alarming that most Christians seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the theology of the Word-Faith movement being trumpeted from pulpits across the land stems from the same sources as Christian Science, New Thought/New Age, Unity School of Christianity...with little to distinguish between them.

[Tracing this unholy genealogy can be a daunting, time consuming task. The chart on this page should make it a little easier and, hopefully, prove enlightening. See Roots of Evil: http://www.inplainsite.org/html/roots_of_evil.html: Rick Warren, Norman Vincent Peale, Bernie Siegel, Robert Schuller – A Course in Miracles, Napoleon Hill, Agnes Sanford, etc]

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore founders of the Unity School of Christianity (a church within the New Thought movement) were students of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a 19th century (1802–66) metaphysician and inventor and the earliest identifiable proponent of what came to be known as New Thought. Myrtle Fillmore was also a follower of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, who was likewise influenced by Quimby. Unity, therefore, was birthed by the Fillmores, but its roots go back to directly to Mary Baker Eddy and both directly and indirectly to Phineas Quimby.

As early as 1936 Charles Fillmore (1854 – 1948), known for his contributions to metaphysical interpretations of Biblical scripture, brashly adapted the Twenty-Third Psalm.

The Lord is my banker; my credit is good.

He maketh me realize the consciousness of omnipresent abundance;

He giveth me the key to His strongbox.

He restoreth my faith in His riches;

He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk in the very shadow of debt,

I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me;

Thy silver and Thy gold, they secure me.

Thou preparest a way for me in the presence of the collector;

Thou fillest my wallet with plenty; my measure runneth over.

Surely goodness and plenty will follow me

all the days of my life.

And I shall do business in the name of the Lord forever. [5]

But let’s take it a step further and...

Compare The Methodology / Technique
Below are 17 quotes from different sources, roughly divided into three groups.

The First Group refers to "seeing" what it is you wish to achieve. While all the statements in this group outline exactly the same concept, note carefully the identical wording "conceive and believe" in the first three quotes. How this happened will be addressed a little later on

A)...the first step to living at your full potential is to enlarge your vision... you must start looking at life through eyes of faith, seeing yourself rising to new levels. See your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams coming to pass. You must conceive it and believe it is possible if you ever hope to experience it.

B) "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

C) "What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve."

D) Believe it in your heart; say it with your mouth. That is the principle of faith. You can have what you say.

E) To conceive it, you must have an image on the inside of the life you want to live on the outside. This image has to become a part of you, in your thoughts, your conversation, deep down in your subconscious mind, in your actions, in every part of your being.

F) The reason visualization is so powerful is because as you create pictures in your mind of seeing yourself with what it is you want you are generating thoughts and feelings of having it now

G) Everything that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what you're thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you.

H) What you keep before your eyes will affect you. You will produce what you're continually seeing in your mind. If you foster an image of defeat and failure, they you're going to live that kind of life. But if you develop an image of victory, success, health abundance joy peace and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.

I) "... we are masters of our fate because we are masters, first of our attitudes. Our attitudes shape our future. This is a universal law. The poet should have told us with great emphasis that this law works whether the attitudes are destructive or constructive. The law states that we translate into physical reality the thoughts and attitudes we hold in our minds, no matter what they are. We translate into reality thoughts of poverty just as quickly as we do thoughts of riches.

The Second Group refers to negative thoughts and confessions or "wrong thinking".

J) Too many times we get stuck in a rut, thinking we've reached our limits. We don't really stretch our faith; we don't believe for anything bigger. But God wants us to constantly be increasing, to be rising to new heights. He wants to increase you in His wisdom and help you to make better decisions. God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas, and creativity.

K) Don't blame God for your lack of success. Like S.B. Fuller you can develop a burning desire to succeed. How? Keep your minds on the things you want and off the things you don't want.

L) The Scripture says that God wants to pour out “His far and beyond favor.”  God wants this to be the best time of your life. But if you are going to receive this favor, you must enlarge your vision. You can't go around thinking negative, defeated, limiting thoughts. Well, I've gone as far as my education will allow. Or, I've had this sickness for years. I guess it's my lot in life.

M) "I was raised in the slums and that's something you can never get out of your system". "I only had a grammar school education". These people are all saying, in essence, that the world has given them a raw deal...They start out with a negative mental attitude. And, of course, with that attitude they are handicapped.

N) "Your own wrong thinking can keep you from God's best"

O) If you are thinking thoughts of defeat, I urge you to rid yourself of such thoughts, for as you think defeat you tend to get it.
The Third Group speaks about 'daily practices'.

P) Each morning before you get out of bed, make it a habit to feel the feelings of gratitude in advance for the great day ahead, as though it is done.

Q) I had actually made a hundred-thousand-dollar bill that I'd put on the ceiling. So first thing in the morning I'd look up and there it was, and it would remind me that this was my intention.

R) Each day you must choose to live with an attitude that expects good things to happen to you. The Bible says, "Set your mind and keep it set on the higher things." When you get up in the morning, the first thing you should do is set your mind in the right direction. Say something such as "This is going to be a great day. God is guiding and directing my steps. His favor is surrounding me.

S) Repeat this program night and morning until you can see, (in your imagination) the money you intend to accumulate.

Although you probably haven't seen much difference between them, the above quoted some from widely differing sources... from the pulpit of one of America's most populous churches to the mouths of devils incarnate.

Group 1

A, E and H are statements made by Joel Osteen in his immensely popular book Your Best Life Now 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential published by FaithWords in August 20, 2007. Quotes are from pages 4-7.

B is from Page 15 of Napoleon Hill and Clement W Stone's runaway bestseller Think and Grow Rich (Ballantine Books. May 12, 1987). In fact this phrase is one of Hill's hallmark expressions.

C is by Norman Vincent Peale. Positive Imaging: The Powerful Way to Change Your Life. Page 42. Ballantine Books (August 27, 1996)

D is by Kenneth Hagin. You Can Have What You Say. Tulsa Faith Library. 1979. Page 14.

F is by Rhonda Byrnes author of The Secret. Page 81. Atria Books/Beyond Words; First Edition (November 28, 2006) [See The Secret http://www.inplainsite.org/html/the_secret.html]

G is a statement made by Prentice Mulford...a pioneer of New Thought. Quoted in The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes. Page 4. Atria Books/Beyond Words; First Edition (November 28, 2006)]

I is by Napoleon Hill and Clement W Stone in the Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (Simon and Schuster, 2007, Page 7), which was a sequel to Think and Grow Rich.

Group 2

J, Land N) are from Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. Pages 4-5 and 18. FaithWords (August 20, 2007)

K is by Napoleon Hill and Clement W Stone's Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. Simon and Schuster, 2007.  Page 18

M is also from Napoleon Hill and Clement W Stone's Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. Page 24. Pocket (June 12, 2007)

O is by Norman Vincent Peale in his ever popular book... The Power of Positive Thinking [Paperback] Fireside; First Fireside edition (March 12, 2003) Page 102] [More about Norman Vincent Peale: http://www.inplainsite.org/html/norman_vincent_peale.html]

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