God issues a warning to those who attempt to cloud an important issue as
Paul says, "charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words
to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study thyself approved
unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word
of truth" (2 Timothy 2:14-15).

People who feel intimidated or weak in their position tend to shift focus
of the discussion to another topic or to attack the motives of those in
opposition, rather than the facts which are taught in scripture.

For example, the pro-abortion group, instead of staying in the arena of
facts concerning the taking of a human life, shift the subject to "a
women's right over her own body", and call their opponents fascists or

This same pattern is found with some in the word-faith camp. They
typically shift the issue, claiming that those who are opposing them are
anti-charismatic (cessationists, believing that the miraculous gifts have
ceased). This misinformation or red herring is designed to lead their
followers to automatically dismiss anything word-faith critics say.

To set the record straight, the staff of Watchman Fellowship is
multi-denominational, as are most of the critics of the word-faith
movement. Watchman's staff is comprised of Baptists, Presbyterians,
Assemblies of God members, etc. Our staff knows that God does heal and
does the miraculous.

Most of Watchman's staff believe in the continuance of the miraculous
gifts for today. Biblically, all Christians are charismatics in that all
Christians possess spiritual gifts.

Those in the word-faith camp who claim their critics are just
anti-charismatic are not accurate even about the biblical definition of
charisma (spiritual gifts endowed by God) nor are they factual in their

To drive this point home it is important for the follower of the
word-faith teachers to know that many pentecostals and charismatics are
very critical of the word-faith theology.

For example, Florence Bulle, a "charismatic," has written an excellent
book titled The Many Faces of Deception (formerly, God Wants You Rich and
Other Enticing Doctrines).

In the first chapter, "Following God for Fun and Profit," she strongly
denounces the "Name-it, Claim-it" teaching, demonstrating how contrary it
is to the Scripture and god's way of living.

Well-known pastor and charismatic leader of Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith
wrote a book, Charisma vs. Charismania, where he writes, "The latest wind
of pernicious, unscriptural doctrine to blow through the ranks of some
charismatics is the `what-you-say-is-what-you-get' teaching, otherwise
known as the prosperity doctrine" (Chuck Smith, Charisma vs. Charismania,
p. 135).

He also soundly condemns the teaching of "negative and positive
confession" as well as the teaching that sickness is a result of lack of
faith. Smith agrees with Watchman when he states that these teachings
"sound more like Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science) than the Apostle
Paul" (Ibid., parenthesis mine).

R.L. Whitworth had been senior pastor of one of the largest Assemblies of
God churches, Calvary Assembly, for 30 years when he wrote the book God
Told Me to Tell You.

In it, Whitworth not only exposes the false demonstrations of "the word of
knowledge," but also ably condemns the doctrines of the word-faith
teachers. He too equates the "name-it and claim-it" theory as a "repeat of
the Science of Mind ideas of Earnest Holmes," founder of the New Age
church of Religious Science. (R.L. Whitworth, God Told Me to Tell You, p.

Dr. George Wood, an Assistant Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, a
pentecostal, writes about the multitude of people he has seen who have
experienced "devastating spiritual and psychological damage caused by the
positive confession movement."

He observes that there are three basic faulty assumptions controlling the
"positive confession" theology.

First, that God wills perfect health, total healing, and complete
prosperity for every believer.

Second, that God has obligated Himself to heal every sickness and to
financially prosper those who have faith.

Third, any failure is not the fault of God, but is caused by a lack of
faith or sin in the individual's life.

Dr. Wood comments that these teachers "have missed the Bible in three
ways: They twist particular verses out of their plain meaning; they refuse
to deal with Scriptures which plainly have different meanings than those
of the `positive confession;' and they fail to let the Bible speak for
itself" (Dr. George Wood, Mountain Movers, July 1988).

Well known charismatic, David Wilkerson, writes in the late Keith Green's
Last Days Ministries newsletter, that he too has seen many Christians
"throughout our nation, whose faith is shipwrecked" because of the "faith"

He writes that they began to "believe that getting every desire of the
heart depended simply on getting their formulas correct. They were
challenged to launch out in God for prosperity, perfect health, and
whatever else their minds could conceive. "Conceive then believe. That
includes removing from your vocabulary any negative thoughts, words, or

Wilkerson comments, "My friends, that kind of theology is silly," and
proceeds to present the correct teaching about God's nature and loving
relationship in the believer's life.

The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements' article on
"Positive Confession Theology" serves as both a documentation of the
heretical teachings and the teachers of the word-faith movement, as well
as some sound correction.

It identifies E.W. Kenyon as the founder, and men like Kenneth Hagin,
Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Frederick K.C. Price, Robert Tilton, Earl
Paulk, and others as his disciples.

The article states that the "theological claims, while based on faulty
presuppositions, has a universal appeal" as it feeds the natural fallen
nature of man.

The article points out that "the Rhema interpretation is their biased
selection of biblical passages, often without due regard to their context.
This approach not only does violence to the text but forces the New
Testament linguistic data into artificial categories that the Bible
authors themselves could not affirm" (Dictionary of Pentecostal and
Charismatic Movements, 1988, pp. 718-720).

Other Pentecostal and Charismatic scholars have written in-depth
correctives to this harmful teaching. This is significant as none of the
word-faith teachers claim to be scholars or well-trained theologically.
Many times they admit this and even foolishly ridicule those who have a
depth of scholarship.

The Bible is very clear that those who become teachers have a much greater
responsibility. They are to be well grounded in sound doctrine.
(Colossians 2:6-7; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-3, 4:6; 2 Timothy
4:1-4; James 3:1).

Dr. Charles Farah, Jr. was Professor of Theology and Historical Studies at
Oral Roberts University and wrote an excellent article for Pneuma: The
Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies titled, "A Critical
Analysis: The "Roots and Fruits" of Faith-Formula Theology" (Spring, 1981,
pp. 3-21).

He summarizes his article by noting, "The movement uses Gnostic
hermeneutical principles and displaces contextual scientific exegesis. It
shares many of the goals of present day humanism, particularly in regards
to the creaturely comforts. It is, in fact, a burgeoning heresy" (Ibid.,
p. 21).

A more recent article in Pneuma, "Cultic Origins of Word-Faith Theology
Within the Charismatic Movement", was written by H. Terris Newman, Bible
professor at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God. Newman adds
Paul Yonggi Cho, Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller to the list of
word-faith teacher who reflect more Mind-Science "theology" than Biblical

He concludes, "In view of the fact of the cultic origins of the health and
wealth gospel, its heretical Christology, its devastating effects on human
lives and the false portrayal of Christianity it presents to the world,
this paper is a call to the wider evangelical community also to engage in
an apologetic that will distinguish the gospel of Jesus Christ from those
who indeed propagate a different gospel" (Newman, Pneuma: The Journal of
the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Spring 1990, pp. 32-55).

Of course one of the most thorough, scholarly works done in this area is
the book A Different Gospel, written by D.R. McConnell of Oral Roberts
University, himself an unapologetic charismatic.

Dr. Gordon Fee, theology professor at Gordon-Conwell seminary has dealt
with the exegetical and interpretive errors of the health and wealth
teachings in two articles, one published in The Pentecostal Evangel and
the other in Agora, which have been combined into a booklet titled, The
Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels.

Fee points out in passage after passage that those who accept the
word-faith teaching are doing so because they want to and because it
appeals to man's base selfish desires. No one can possibly come to their
conclusions based on an accurate exegesis and historical view of the

Two of the most outspoken current critics of the word-faith movement are
Christian Research Institute, founded by the late Dr. Walter Martin and
now led by Hank Hanegraaff, both "charismatic" Christians, and Cornerstone
Ministries, led by Eric Pement, also "charismatic". Personal Freedom
Outreach's staff member, Steve Cannon, who exposes these errors, also
comes from the charismatic-pentecostal tradition.

And last but certainly not least, the Assemblies of God issued an official
statement on 1980 on "The Believer and Positive Confession". It is a
sound, balanced view of the issues of faith, healing, miracles, prayer and
the life of a believer.

The statement demonstrates how the excesses of the word-faith theology
"are in conflict with the Word of God" It correctly points out that true
biblical faith considers the will and sovereignty of God which can be
discerned from a sound hermeneutic (i.e., rules of Bible interpretation).

In admirable pastoral concern, the statement concludes with, "God's Word
does teach great truths such as healing, provision for need, faith, and
the authority of believers. But these truths must always be considered in
the framework of the total teaching of Scripture. When abuses occur, there
is sometimes a temptation to draw back from these great truths of God's
Word. The fact that doctrinal aberrations develop, however is not a reason
for rejecting or remaining silent concerning them" (p. 22).

All of these articles and more which demonstrate the harm and heretical
nature of the word-faith movement are available for a donation to Watchman
Fellowship to cover expenses.

Pray with us that the leaders and followers will be like Apollos, a gifted
and dynamic communicator, when Priscilla and Aquila took him aside to
explain "the way of God more perfectly", he responded and was powerfully
used to help correctly teach those "which had believed through grace"
(Acts 18:24-28).

Copied with permission from the Watchman Expositor.
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