Sunday, February 24, 2008

On Charismatism: Word-faith - gutting the centrality of the Gospel

[continued from here, here, here, here and here]


The worst error of the Word-faith movement comes in the manner it impunges upon the Gospel and distorts it. To put it simplistically, the Word-faith movement has altered the Gospel and distorted it into a message of health and wealth — 'salvation' in the here and now instead of salvation from actual sin and an actual wrath of an actual God who punishes sinners with actual everlasting punishment. And this is what makes the Word-faith movement utter heresy, being placed under the anathema of God (Gal. 1:8-9)

Now, it may be asked why is this so? As it was seen earlier on, the Word-faith teachers talk about blessing, health and wealth being purchased by Christ in the Atonement. Although they do talk about atonement for sin, their focus is on the fact that because Jesus died on the Cross, we can have health NOW and propsperity NOW. Whether consciously or not, because of that that would mean that the good news of the Gospel will be focused on blessing and prosperity. D.A. Carson mentions in his talk in Singapore about the concept of shifting the center of the Gospel, which is to say that the the true center of the Gospel (the sin atonement) is not so much denied as it is neglected. Once this is done, the message of the Gospel message has changed, and those who are 'saved' or 'build up in the Word' while the teacher is so doing will constitute the next generation who would substitute the true Gospel with the "new gospel' proclaimed by the Word-faith teacher. In the matter of the Word-faith movement, this has attracted and produced a generation whose only impression of the Gospel is 'blessing, health and wealth', and such a distortion is therefore a false gospel which condemns people instead of saving them.

As the center of the proclaimed gospel has shifted, so has the world came into the church. The entire focus of the Gospel is salvation from sin unto holiness. The focus of the 'new gospel', however, is on material blessings, of which the love of it is expressively condemned in Scripture. As it is written,

'No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money' (Mt. 6:24).


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Tim. 6:10)

The Word-faith teaching on health and wealth has resulted in the love for health and wealth to enter the church, and with it the love of money. Who can dispute the fact that their adherents talk about money, money and more money? About Jesus wanting believers to get rich and healthy? Yet, all of such attitudes are of the world, and the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10), destroying the faith of those who adhere to it. As Scripture has warned again and again but these people refuse to listen, no man can serve God and Mammon! The entire focus of the Word-faith movement can be summed up as follows:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Tim. 6: 3-5. Bold added)

By focusing on health and wealth which they think is promised by God due to the Atonement, they recreated God into a cosmic vending machine, and treat Christianity and godliness as a means of worldly gain. After all, why the huge focus on wealth and of getting rich, and on health too? Contrast their attitudes with the attitudes of those in the Hall of Fame in Heb. 11, especially Heb. 11:35-38:

Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Heb. 11:35-38)

Does anyone see these heroes of the faith focusing and thinking of health and wealth? What a contrast! As it is written,

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Rev. 12:11)

True saints and believers in Jesus Christ should NOT think about such worldly stuff, and neither does the Bible talk much about the topic either, only about how to behave if you are rich or if you are poor in this life. And that's because the focus of the Bible is God, and how He is so glorious and so wonderful to us because of His Atonement on our behalf such that we love not our lives even unto death. The Word-faith movement, by shifting the center at best, guts the centrality of the Gospel from the Gospel itself, and therefore leaves a false gospel and thus anyone believing in it is still left condemned under the curse and wrath of God for their sin.

Faith in faith

Another name of the 'health-and-wealth gospel' is the 'Name it, claim it gospel'. And it is not called this for no reason. Faith in the Word-faith movement is treated more like a impersonal powerful force (ie Star Wars) which is efficacious in itself by its own action (Latin: ex opere operato). As such, the focus is on the need for faith, and that whether something would happen or not depends on the level of faith a person or a group has confessed. If that doesn't sound like the Star Wars 'force', then nothing is. Word-faith teachers typically state that positive confessions must be made to create the reality wanted, while negativity must not be used as it could destroy the power of faith. As Kenneth Hagin is quoted as saying:

In the opening chapter, titled "Jesus Appears to Me," Hagin claims that while he "was in the Spirit" — just like the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos — a white cloud enveloped him and he began to speak in tongues. "Then the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to me," says Hagin. "He stood within three feet of me." After what sounded like a casual conversation about such things as finances, ministry, and even current affairs, Jesus told Hagin to get a pencil and a piece of paper. He then instructed him to "Write down: 1,2,3,4." Jesus then allegedly told Hagin that "if anybody, anywhere, will take these four steps or put these four principles into operation, he will always receive whatever he wants from Me or from God the Father." That includes whatever you want financially. The formula is simply: "Say it, Do it, Receive it, and Tell it."

1. Step number one is "Say it." "Positive or negative, it is up to the individual. According to what the individual says, that shall he receive."

2. Step number two is "Do it." "Your action defeats you or puts you over. According to your action, you receive or you are kept from receiving."

3. Step number three is "Receive it." We are to plug into the "powerhouse of heaven." "Faith is the plug, praise God! Just plug in."

4. Step number four is "Tell it so others may believe." This final step might be considered the Faith movement’s outreach program[1]

And as Gary Gilley points out:

If a positive confession of faith releases power, then a negative confession can actually backfire. ...

As you might guess the teachings of the Faith movement are very attractive to some. If we can produce whatever our hearts desire by simply demanding what we want by faith; if we can manipulate the universe and perhaps even God, then we have our own personal genie just waiting to fulfill our wishes. Frederick Price wastes no words when he writes, "Now this is a shocker! But God has to be given permission to work in this earth realm on behalf of man. . . .Yes! You are in control! So if man has control, who no longer has it? God. . . . When God gave Adam dominion, that meant God no longer had dominion. So, God cannot do anything on this earth unless we let Him or give Him permission through prayer" (Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is. . . and How to Pray? The Word Study Bible, p. 1178).[2]

As it can be seen, this is outright heresy and blasphemy. One defence of the faith in faith doctrine is that God spoke the universe into being ex nihilo. But we are not God! Just becase God spoke the Universe into being does not mean that Man can do the same. And yes, it is stated that words have power in Jas. 3:5-8, but this power refers to the influence it has over its hearers including the speaker himself, NOT how much power it has to alter reality. This is more of the mind-sciences rather than Christianity, which is based on the occult! Mt. 12:37 may be attempted to use to support this faith-in-faith theory, but it cannot be as the context is referring to the words being an expression of what is in the heart (Mt. 12:34), not that the words have magical properties to change reality.

And as Gary Gilley has rightfully pointed out, and which the Word-faithers also mention, since Man has so much power and dominion, who therefore is not sovereign? God! This is enough to condemn the entire movement as heresy and being a cult, as God is re-created to be like Man while Man are elevated to the level of gods!


And so we conclude our tour through Word-faith territory, with the heretical nature of the Word-faith teachings being exposed. It truly is saddening that many people who call themselves Christians are Word-faith followers, and thus their salvation is even questionable since the Word-faith teaches a false gospel. In Singapore, the largest Word-faith Bible School is Rhema Bible School Singapore, producing batches of preachers to spread their heresy, while the two largest churches in Singapore, City Harvest Church (CHC) and New Creation Church (NCC), are Word-faith and thus heretical. As such, work must be done to evangelize the peple from these two "churches" as regardless of whether they are saved, their church is a false church and therefore the members are to be treated as unbelievers, and believers there to be treated as open sinnners who through their compromise are continually sinning by their presence there in open violation of 2 Cor. 6:14-18. After all, it is sin to worship God in a pagan temple with pagan worshippers, so it is also sin to do so in CHC or NCC. May God raise up laborers to call those caught in the Word-faith movement out of darkness into the glorious light of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may He be pleased to open their hearts so that they might turn from their sinful ways and live. Amen.

[Word-faith sub-series concluded; Main series to be continued]


[1] Hank Hanegraaff (1993), Christianity in crisis, Harvest House Publishers, p. 74, 75

[2] Gary E. Gilley, The Word of Faith Movement, in Think on these Things Articles (April 1999, Volume 5, Issue 4), (


yongchun said...

I currently have mixed feelings about CHC though, because I have met a spectrum of believers who range from orthodoxy to others who clearly believe in the $ seed principle. The orthodox believers seem confused and have difficulty leaving the church because they have strong emotional ties to the people there.

Just wondering, have you heard of A.R. Bernard or Phil Pringle? These two are frequent guest speakers at CHC, and I was wondering if you were familiar with their teachings. Are they WOF preachers too?

Daniel C said...


good to see you reveal your name at least. With regards to CHC, I wouldn't be surprised, since according to sources, I have heard that it was rather orthodox quite a couple of years back. And emotional ties are hard to break, even though they are commanded by Scripture to leave that church (Rev. 18:4).

And no, I have not heard about these two people. Word-faith isn't something I took really serious notice of previously, since I hadn't known anyone there yet.