Recently a movie was released called “American Gospel: Christ Alone” (available for $15 on download or $5 as a streaming rental). In this movie the claim is made that the gospel being preached in a lot of churches around the world is a false gospel created in and exported from the US. Ministers like Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Bill Johnson, Todd White, and Kenneth Copeland are presented as the purveyors of this false gospel, although the movie does delve a bit into Catholicism (which didn’t originate in America so I don’t see how that’s really relevent), the Emergent Church (which began in New Zealand and the UK) and Universalism at times.
Proverbs 18:17 says “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.” A lot of people have watched this movie and are convinced that it’s presenting a clear and compelling case against the Word of Faith movement, but now it’s time for a little cross-examination. Before we go any further it should be understood that there are at least two wings of the WoF movement – the Kenneth Hagin wing that includes the Rhema family with over 100,000 graduates from their different campuses around the world, and the televangelist wing where the vast majority of the extremism has surfaced, and from which most of the critics draw their source material. Most of what you’ll hear and see in this movie were things that Kenneth Hagin (the leader of the movement) didn’t agree with and never would have condoned. In his book “The Midas Touch: A Balanced Approach to Biblical Prosperity” Kenneth Hagin said:
“…. ministers should never suggest or lead people to believe that prosperity means conspicuous, lavish wealth. It simply is not true that everyone who has faith for prosperity will live in a palace, drive a luxurious car, and dress in expensive, designer-label clothes. Prosperity is relative. For some people, being able to pay their bills and provide the basic comforts of life for their families would be a great blessing—a definite step up. In some countries, being prosperous might mean having a bicycle or motorcycle to ride, or an ox to plow the fields to plant a crop.”
“Some people become religiously imbalanced, stressing and practicing only certain truths and neglecting or ignoring others. Sooner than later, we need to learn that the Bible doesn’t teach a lopsided, imbalanced message regarding prosperity. There is much more to the message than constantly saying, “If you want to be prosperous, give! If you want to be prosperous, give! If you want to be prosperous, give!” Ministers who do this are not teaching the whole counsel of God. In my personal opinion, they do an injustice to the Word of God by emphasizing just one side of the issue. They give understandable grounds to those who charge that their motive is to get people to give to them.”
That’s a stark contrast to the way the Word of Faith is presented in this movie. Kenneth Hagin grew up during the Great Depression, and he knew the value of a dollar. He believed in being a good steward of the resources that God provides, and he never would have spent $20,000 for a hotel room as Benny Hinn reportedly did. He had a nice house but it wasn’t a mansion, and he was actually still living in an apartment after over 30 years in the ministry.
Now as I’ve stated many times in previous videos, Benny Hinn is not WoF. In the movie you’ll hear his nephew Costi Hinn repeatedly claiming that he is because, having grown up in a Benny Hinn bubble of confusion Costi apparently doesn’t know what WoF is. But in a 1993 interview with Charisma Magazine Benny Hinn said:
“The Lord is showing me some things I have been wrong about. At one point I taught certain things, such as the ‘little gods’ teaching, and Jesus dying spiritually. Now I have quit teaching such things, and I have made it clear that I no longer believe them. In the past, I also taught some things about faith, confession and prosperity that were out of balance. Now I want to come back to the center.” He went on to say: “I was educated and influenced by Catholics when I was growing up. Then, shortly after I was born again, I was influenced by Kathryn Kuhlman. Both the Catholics and Kathryn emphasized reverence for God. When I moved to Orlando in 1980 things changed. I got to know some of the Faith teachers and began to read a lot of their books. So my teaching began to change. But I’ll tell you what has happened recently. I am coming back to the way I was before 1980. After 10 years of filling my life with Faith books, I got to the place where I found some extremes in this teaching. I respect these teachers as men of God, but frankly, they are teaching some things that I don’t believe.” He went on to say “I don’t believe confessing the Word works the way I taught it in the past. Of course we should believe and confess God’s Word. But I don’t believe we can just confess any scripture and make it happen.”
So you can see that he was publicly announcing that he was going back to his roots in Catholicism and the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman, and was rejecting what he understood (or misunderstood in most cases) as Word of Faith. So anything that Benny Hinn says and does should be categorized as Benny Hinn and nothing else.
The movie was the brainchild of director Brandon Kimber, who claims in the following audio clip that he was raised in a WoF home and is now Reformed (or Calvinist) in his theology.
Now let me say first of all that this documentary is well done from a cinematic standpoint. The sound track is cool, the film is high quality, the camera work is professional, the audio production and edits are impressive. So the people who put this together knew what they were doing as far as that goes. And unfortunately that’s about where the quality ends as far as I’m concerned. The research and theological analysis are sorely lacking.
Now in this movie they use the terms “Word of Faith”, “Prosperity gospel”, and “health and wealth gospel” interchangeably, so even though I would ordinarily take issue with referring to the Word of Faith as the “prosperity gospel”, for the sake of simplicity I’ll just accept that terminology in my commentary.
In the trailer for the movie we see this text.
Yeah, it’s negative alright, but not exactly accurate. And as for the so-called examination of biblical truth, most of the ministers interviewed for this movie were Reformed, which means that for the most part they hold to the theology of Calvinism. Among them were John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, John Piper, Michael Horton, Anthony Silvestro, Bryan Chappell, Julius Kim, Robert Bowman Jr., Emilio Ramos, Mark Dever, Sean DeMars, Russell Berger, Trevin Wax, Michael Durham, Phillip Howell, Matt Chandler, Phil Johnson, Anthony Wood, Simeon Williams, Mike Gendron, Costi Hinn, and our old buddy Justin Peters who I’ve done several videos about.
Now, I’m not going to go into Calvinism too deep in my comments, but for the sake of clarity I think a few things should be pointed out. First of all, Calvinism teaches that because of the fall, nobody is capable of seeking God or having saving faith unless God sovereignly extends His grace to them in order to do so. They call it “total depravity”. In this clip Steve Lawson compares man’s total inability to a corpse’s inability to do anything.
But the Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God rather than through a special dispensation of saving faith. (Rom. 10:17) Calvinists also hold to “limited atonement”. You see, according to Calvinism Jesus didn’t die for everybody. He only died for the “elect” who were predetermined to have saving faith extended to them. The rest apparently are just out of luck. When Jesus said in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”, that doesn’t mean that just anybody can believe and be saved. It means that whoever God extends saving faith to can and will be saved. The rest can’t believe even if they wanted to, which they can’t do anyway because God apparently doesn’t want them to want to. ??? In Section 5 Chapter 21 of his book “Institutes of the Christian Religion” Calvin said:
“All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.”
This is referred to as “double predestination”, that some were predestined by God to heaven and others were predestined to hell, so in effect we have nothing to say or do about any of it. It’s all up to the sovereignty of God. Let’s listen to some things that John Piper has said along the lines of predestination.
“I have three sons. Every night after they are asleep I turn on the hall light, open their bedroom door, and walk from bed to bed, laying my hands on them and praying. Often I am moved to tears of joy and longing. I pray that Karsten Luke become a great physician of the soul, that Benjamin John become the beloved son of my right hand in the gospel, and that Abraham Christian give glory to God as he grows strong in his faith. But I am not ignorant that God may not have chosen my sons for his sons. And, though I think I would give my life for their salvation, if they should be lost to me, I would not rail against the Almighty. He is God. I am but a man. The potter has absolute rights over the clay. Mine is to bow before his unimpeachable character and believe that the Judge of all the earth has ever and always will do right.” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-does-a-sovereign-god-love
So John Piper is saying here that as much as he loves his sons, God may not love them as much and may have predestined them for eternal flames, and he’s cool with that. This might be a bit on the extreme side, but it’s pretty much how Calvinists view the sovereignty of God in salvation, so it should come as no surprise that the people appearing in this movie have a different understanding of God’s sovereignty than the majority of Evangelical Christians who believe that anybody can be saved by faith because God has already extended to everyone the capacity for saving faith, and is already drawing them to Him by His Spirit. (John 12:32) In this next clip, Phil Johnson is talking about the Westminister Confession of Faith, which is a statement of Calvinist beliefs.
In this clip Costi Hinn is grabbing a volume of the Calvinist John MacArthur’s commentaries.
I mean, could you be any more obvious? In effect, this movie is Calvinist propaganda masquerading as Christian apologetics. Let me repeat – most, if not all of the Calvinist teachers featured in this documentary telling us what the “true gospel” is DON’T BELIVE THAT JESUS DIED FOR EVERYBODY!!! And not once in the movie did they mention that. They don’t mention it when they preach the gospel either. Instead they borrow from the gospel presentation of non-Calvinists and pretend that Jesus did die for everybody even though their theology says otherwise. Bear all of this in mind if you choose to watch this movie, and as we go through the contents of the movie. And remember that every time they mention the gospel, they’re referring to the Calvinist version of the gospel which includes predestination. In essence, their version of the good news is that God sovereignly chooses who the elect are and refuses to extend saving faith to the non-elect.
The movie begins and ends interestingly enough with the late Nabeel Quereshi, a devout Muslim turned Christian apologist who died a couple of years ago from stomach cancer.
Now as you go through the movie you hear a lot about how we should follow Jesus because of who He is, and not for what He can give us or do for us. And yet, when Nabeel received his diagnosis guess what he did? He went to a church that believes that it’s God’s will to heal. He went to Bill Johnson’s church called Bethel Church in Redding, California. Well, for some strange reason the movie left out the part about Nabeel going to Bethel and saying nice things about them, but that’s why I’m hear you see, to fill in the missing parts of the story. Observe.
You see, it’s fine to say healing isn’t always God’s will when it’s the other guy who needs healing, but when it’s you? You want somebody to pray for you who believes that God wants to heal you. In fact, Nabeel’s last sermon was in a Pentecostal church in Houston.
Now as you saw in the clips, Nabeel said that he heard the gospel preached at Bethel and he thinks that a lot of people are too quick to condemn Christians who don’t believe like they do. They obviously left those comments out because it didn’t fit their Reformed narrative, but to omit these comments from Nabeel is very misleading. Nabeel Quereshi was quite a man. As a former Muslim he stood up for Jesus in front of the whole world including his Muslim family, and as a Christian apologist he refused to engage in heretic hunting.
In this next clip, Matt Chandler is receiving prayer while going through his bout with cancer.
Yes, Calvinists pray for healing too. The difference with faith people is that they pray believing that it’s God’s will, while Calvinists are trying to talk God into it even though their theology says that everything is predetermined.
Next, they present a quote from Dr. Michael Horton. Now if you want to know how credible Dr. Horton is, I did a video rebutting his comments on the Word of Faith movement. Among the things he got wrong were his claim that “Oral Roberts had no college” (he attended two colleges – Oklahoma Baptist Universty and Phillips University). He also stated that WoF teachers deny the doctrine of the Trinity (not true, and easily refuted by reading the statements of faith on their websites).
In this movie they tried to make the point that Benny Hinn teaches that there are nine members of the godhead, and they showed this clip to prove it.
What they don’t tell you is that Benny Hinn retracted that nonsense about a week later, and stated so in that same 1993 interview with Charisma.
“In Finis Dake’s book God’s Plan for Man, he teaches that each member of the Trinity has His own spirit, soul and body. One Sunday when I was speaking on the Trinity, I repeated that teaching. As soon as I did, I could feel tension in the congregation because the people sense when you say things that aren’t right. So I tried to clear the air. Jokingly, I said, “There must be nine of them.” Well the people laughed and I thought, Boy, that was a dumb thing to say. Then I forgot about it. The next Sunday, I apologized to my congregation for saying such a thing. I told them it wasn’t right for me to teach this nor was it right to joke about it.”
So why are we still hearing about it 26 years later? Horton also said that Jimmy Swaggart is WoF. Well Jimmy Swaggart would be surprised to learn that since he has denounced it since 1982 when he wrote an article against the WoF in his ministry’s magazine The Evangelist (page 12). Horton also said that WoF teaches that Jesus hasn’t always been God, which is hogwash but we’ll cover this later. So clearly Dr. Horton’s observations in this area should be taken with a grain of salt.
And then there’s Justin Peters, who is either an incompetent researcher or a
pathological liar because he has left a long trail of misinformation in his videos. To start with, he claimed that E. W. Kenyon had clear ties to New Thought and New Age.
The fact is E. W. Kenyon was opposed to New Thought. Despite what you might hear from WoF critics, Kenyon held to all of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and was ordained with the Free Will Baptists rather than any New Thought denomination like Unity or Christian Science. Even Robert Bowman Jr., in this same movie, acknowledges that Kenyon’s influences were Evangelicals.
As for having ties with New Age, the New Age movement began during the counterculture hippie movement in the late 1960s. It was named after the Age of Aquarius. Kenyon died in 1948, so how could he have ties to a movement that began 20 years after he died? What was he, a time traveler? Seriously, it takes like 2 minutes on Google to debunk that claim. And if Justin was thinking about the 19th century movement called Theosophy, that dog won’t hunt either. Kenyon stated his opposition to Theosophy on page 99 of his book “The Father and His Family”.
“Theosophy tries to make us believe that all men have the nature of Deity. The same thing is held by practically all our modern liberal theological teachers and preachers! That the so-called “Spark of Divinity” dwells in all men, that the New Birth is simply the awakening, the blowing-into-a-flame, of this spark of Divinity. If man had a spark of Deity or any part of Deity abiding in him, then man was already God Incarnate. We know that this theory is fallacious, for humanity has experimentally proven it false. The entire New Testament contradicts it.”
One more claim that JP made is that Benny Hinn conjures up the ghost of Kathryn Kuhlman to get instructions for his ministry.
Now in the graphic he showed he uses the word “necromancy” and defines it as “obtaining knowledge by the conjuring of the dead”. I’ve searched high and low for evidence to support that claim and came up empty handed. Maybe Costi can provide it, but I doubt it. I’m no fan of Benny Hinn, but I am a fan of the truth and if Justin Peters is spreading misinformation like this about him he needs to be held accountable.
In this next clip from the movie, they show a brief excerpt from a Joel Osteen message where he says that 99.9% of people are good people.
Notice that they put the clip next to the donation section of the ministry’s website, apparently suggesting that Osteen is getting rich off of donations. The fact is Joel Osteen has made millions as an author and doesn’t take any of the donation money because he doesn’t need it, and hasn’t taken a salary since 2005. Also, the clip that they showed was taken out of context. He wasn’t stating his theological position on original sin or Christian anthropology. He was preaching on how we should show compassion to people who aren’t always on their best behavior.
I guarantee you that if you were to ask Joel Osteen if he believes Romans 3:23 (that all fall short of the glory of God because of sin) he would answer in the affirmative.
The message that was communicated throughout this movie is that Word of Faith people don’t preach the gospel of the Bible – that we are condemned by our sins and that the only way to eternal life is by being born again by faith in the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ. So at this point I want to walk you through the thoughts of various people in the Word of Faith movement on the subject of salvation. In the statement of faith posted on Kenneth Hagin Ministries website it says:
“MAN, HIS FALL AND REDEMPTION—Man is a created being, made in the likeness and image of God, but through Adam’s transgression and fall, sin came into the world. The Bible says “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,”
“…There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10; 3:23). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was manifested to undo the works of the devil and gave His life and shed His blood to redeem and restore man back to God (Rom. 5:14; 1 John 3:8). Salvation is the gift of God to man, separate from works and the Law, and is made operative by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, producing works acceptable to God (Eph. 2:8–10).” “ETERNAL LIFE AND THE NEW BIRTH—Man’s first step toward salvation is godly sorrow that worketh repentance. The New Birth is necessary to all men, and when experienced, produces eternal life (2 Cor. 7:10; John 3:3–5; 1 John 5:12).”
Here’s a clip of Rodney Howard-Browne inviting people to receive Jesus.
Here’s a clip of T. D. Jakes doing the same.
Here’s Joel Osteen giving the invitation.
And here’s Bill Johnson.
As you can see, the gospel message from these men is pretty mainstream. The only difference in the gospel preached in the Word of Faith is that Jesus also provided physical healing (for those who believe) in His atonement, a belief held by several Pentecostal denominations, and that doesn’t violate any of the essentials. And this isn’t necessarily an American doctrine. A. B. Simpson taught it in his book “The Gospel of Healing” in 1890, and he was from Canada. Andrew Murray wrote “Divine Healing” a few years after that in 1900 and also taught healing in the atonement, and he was South Africa. And they all hold to the essential doctrines of the faith – the diety of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection, justification by faith, the Trinity (with the possible exception of T.D. Jakes), and eternal judgment. So the idea that they’re preaching a “different gospel” is nonsense. They’re certainly teaching a different theology from Calvinism (especially on free will and salvation) because they teach that God loves everybody and sent Jesus to die for everybody. But they’re preaching the same need for a savior and the same Jesus who alone can grant us eternal life by faith in His substitutionary work and Resurrection.
When I attended Kenneth Hagin’s school “Rhema Bible Training Center” we were issued a book called “Bible Doctrines” by P.C. Nelson, published in 1948. As a young man Brother Hagin sat under Dr. Nelson’s teaching, and he had a great deal of respect for him as both a minister and a Bible scholar. Allow me to quote from the book. In the chapter on “The Salvation of Man” he wrote:
“Salvation is from God and not from man. Salvation is through Christ alone. Salvation is ordained by grace and not by works. Salvation is for the whole man. Salvation is for time and eternity. Salvation is neglected at fearful cost. Faith in Christ as our crucified and risen Saviour and Lord is the procuring cause of salvation, as ubelief is of damnation. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit cooperate with the sinner in his salvation.”
In the chapter on Divine Healing he said:
“In the atonement full provision is made for our physical healing, as well as our deliverence from the guilt, penalty, and power of sin.”
and then he said
“Divine healing is part and parcel of the gospel.”
Again, that was written in 1948, so this is nothing new. In this next clip a guy named David asked why Bill Johnson is wearing glasses.
Because he’s 68 years old, and his eyes don’t work as good as they used to. You may have also noticed that his hair is gray and his skin is wrinkled, too. It’s called “aging” David, and everybody that Jesus healed eventually grew old too, and eventually died. Does that mean that Jesus was a fake? Bill Johnson doesn’t teach that the general curse on the Earth from the fall has been removed. He doesn’t say that we’ll never grow old. No, the law of sin and death is still at work, and we’re all going to die if Jesus doesn’t return in our lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that we have to die from sickness. We can just die from old age as the children of Israel were told they could in the Old Covenant.
But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. (Ex. 23:22-26)
So He tells them that if they keep the covenant He’ll take away sickness and they’ll die from old age. Hebrews 8:6 tells us that we have a better covenant based on better promises, so if their covenant provided healing and long life shouldn’t ours? Whether you agree with this view or not, you should at least be informed about the theology that you’re opposing before you start commenting on it, which David clearly isn’t. The Old Covenant also included financial prosperity.
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. (Deut. 28:1-8)
So if prosperity was provided in the Old Covenant and we have a better covenant why wouldn’t we expect to see prosperity in the New? What many WoF critics do is take the WoF teaching on financial prosperity and make that into the WoF gospel. That would be like taking the teaching of the Primitive Baptists and accusing them of preaching a footwashing gospel, or the teaching of the Assemblies of God and accusing them of preaching a speaking in tongues gospel. It’s just a juvenile and indefensible approach to apologetics to take the theological distinctives of a particular group and morph them into their presentation of the gospel for the sole purpose of condemning the group as preaching another gospel.
What this all boils down to is essentially a debate over the views of the Calvinists featured in the film and the non-Calvinist Charismatics they’re attacking. But you can’t have a fair debate when you stack the deck with Calvinists rebutting cherry picked comments from a handful of Charismatics who often don’t even represent the views of the leader of the WoF movement. What you end up with instead is the marketing of Calvinist theology and a distortion of Word of Faith theology.
Is there error taught in the WoF movement? Of course, just as there is error in every movement. Is there extremism and chicanery? No question. But the core beliefs of the WoF movement weren’t really addressed in this movie. I mean, if you’re going to discuss Lutheranism you’ll want to examine what Martin Luther taught. If you want to discuss Methodism you’d want to examine what John Wesley said. And if you’re going to do a serious analysis of WoF teaching you might want to look at what Kenneth Hagin taught. As far as I could tell they only provided one quote of Kenneth Hagin, and they took that out of context.
Okay, let me make a few points here. First of all, that wasn’t a book. As Bowman stated it was an article in a free monthly magazine produced by Kenneth Hagin Ministries. Not a book – a free magazine. Second, this wasn’t plagiarism. Kenneth Hagin didn’t write that. It was taken from a transcript of a message that he gave where he was quoting Kenyon. Kenneth Hagin had an amazing memory and could quote entire chapters of the Bible, and entire paragraphs from books that he had read repeatedly. Here he was quoting from Kenyon’s thoughts on the Incarnation in the book “The Father and His Family”.
Third, as I covered earlier Kenyon opposed theologies that taught the deification of man. What he was saying was that the first time God ever lived in human form was in the person of Jesus, and that because of Jesus we can now have God living in us by his Spirit. The incarnation that Kenyon was referring to was the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. You see the Holy Spirit is God. You deny that and I’ll call YOU a heretic! And unless you’re an android you live in a body of flesh, and that’s what “incarnation” means – God in the flesh. Kenyon wasn’t saying that we’re just as much God as Jesus. He was discussing the indwelling of the Spirit that occurs upon regeneration. In Kenyon’s day it was common to use the word “incarnation” that way. When Kenneth Hagin quoted Kenyon he was making the same point. He wasn’t teaching the deification of man but the reality of the indwelling of the Spirit of God in born again believers. That’s mainstream Evangelical theology, not heresy.
In the next clip we hear the claim that the “little gods” doctrine is a core doctrine in the WoF.
Well in order for it to be a main doctrine of the movement you would expect the leader of the movement to have taught it, but Kenneth Hagin never said that we are little gods. That’s something that Kenneth Copeland started and others picked up on about 30 years ago, but you rarely hear it anymore. In the next clip Justin Peters disputes the idea that we can speak things into existence.
This is typical Justin Peters. When people say “speak it into existence” they’re not saying that we can create anything ex nihilo, or “out of nothing” the way that God created the universe. That’s ridiculous. Jesus told us in Mark 11:23,24 that if we don’t doubt in our hearts, we can speak to mountains and they’ll be removed. Mountains in the Bible represent obstacles, so He’s saying that we can remove obstacles in life by speaking words of faith. So in that sense we can speak things into existence, or change circumstances with our words of faith provided that they’re consistent with the revealed will of God in the Word of God. But that’s different from creating space, time, matter, and energy from nothing by speaking them into existence as God did.
And fourth, Kenneth Hagin didn’t take his theology from Kenyon as his critics claim. The fact is, he was teaching on faith and healing in 1950 and somebody asked him if he’d ever read Kenyon’s books. He told them he’d never heard of Kenyon. They replied that he was teaching faith just like Kenyon, and they gave him some of Kenyon’s books. After reading Kenyon a little he realized that they were right – he did teach faith just like Kenyon. This is covered in the introductory section of his book “The Name of Jesus“. Now, how could he have taken his teaching from Kenyon if he was already teaching like Kenyon before he ever even heard of Kenyon? Sure, he started borrowing some of Kenyon’s verbiage because he liked the way he stated things, but he didn’t agree with Kenyon on a number of things and told us so when I was a student at Rhema.
In this clip Costi Hinn says that Kenyon was a teacher way back in the 1800s.
In the 1800s? Kenyon was born in 1867 and he died in 1948, so the vast majority of his ministry occurred in the 20th century, not the 19th century. His first book was published in 1916 if I’m not mistaken. Now maybe you’re thinking “so he got the century wrong. Big deal!” He gets a lot of stuff wrong! They all do. That’s my point! They’re a bunch of sloppy, irresponsible (or just dishonest) religious bigots. Kenneth Hagin’s biggest influences – Pop Goodwin, Smith Wigglesworth, Raymond T. Richey, Charles Price, F.F. Bosworth, P.C Nelson – were all Pentecostals. Kenyon wasn’t. Kenyon’s influence was primarily in how Kenneth Hagin stated things since he liked Kenyon’s eloquent wording. Here’s my video on this.
On a related topic is the doctrine of kenosis. These guys accuse WoF people of denying the deity of Jesus because they say that Jesus didn’t come as God but as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit.
I did a video on kenosis too, but I’ll touch on it a bit here. Phil. 2:7 says that Jesus “emptied Himself”. What did He empty Himself of? His divine attributes. Rather than displaying omnipresence Jesus was confined to one location at a time. Rather than displaying omniscience Jesus didn’t know the day or hour of His return. Rather than displaying omnipotence, Jesus never did a miracle until the age of 30 when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him at the baptism of John, anointing Him for His ministry. In fact, in John 5:19 He said that He could do nothing by Himself. He was dependent upon the Father and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not a denial of the deity of Jesus to say that He functioned as a man with human limitations. It’s an acknowledgment of His humanity. The Bible says that God doesn’t sleep, but Jesus slept. The Bible says that God can’t be tempted, but Jesus was tempted. Does this mean that He wasn’t God? No. It just means that in His humanity He displayed characteristics that we don’t associate with God. Romans 8:3 tells us that Jesus came “in the likeness of sinful human flesh”. That means he appeared to be as human as every other man. Even John MacArthur says that Jesus emptied Himself of His divine attributes and ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Charismatics who talk about Jesus emptying Himself are saying the same thing. They just don’t say it the same way, and so these guys feel perfectly justified in engaging in theological hairsplitting for the sake of condemning people they don’t agree with.
In the next clip Sean DeMars says that we have to call out false teachers like Paul did.
But Paul knew what he was talking about, and these guys don’t. Paul was there with Peter and witnessed what he was doing first hand. These guys are condemning people they’ve never met, based on books or videos by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, or by their own half-baked internet research. Apples and oranges. Before you call somebody a heretic you need to make every effort to ensure that you’re not misrepresenting what they teach or do, because if you misrepresent them it’s going to come back on you!
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just! (Rom. 3:5-8)
Paul clearly says that people who were misrepresenting what he was teaching on grace were facing condemnation. That’s something to think about.
Throughout the movie you see people who are suffering from sickness, and the comments are basically “faith people don’t believe that Christians should suffer”, which isn’t true. Suffering persecution is promised in scripture. We accept that, and we get persecuted all the time – especially by religious bigots. But we don’t believe that Christians are expected to suffer from sickness. Since Jesus bore our sicknesses on the cross it seems unnecessary for us to also suffer from sickness. But this distinction wasn’t really addressed. They just left you hanging with the impression that all suffering is rejected in the WoF which isn’t true at all.
Here’s a couple more clips of some of the nonsense in this movie.
Now how can Satan be sovereign if I am god? That makes no sense at all. They’re contradicting each other within the same movie. Basically they’re just throwing a bunch of accusations against the wall to see what sticks.
What all of this tells me is that this wasn’t a good faith effort to do a quality analysis of WoF theology. This was just another case of WoF opponents taking the extremes and presenting them as the norm with a heavy dose of untruths added for good measure, while they promote their Calvinist views. Just for grins, let’s listen to a Calvinist discussing God’s love.
That passage from Romans 9 is a favorite of Calvinists to push their views, and the guy in the video is part of the Calvinist Westboro Baptist Church. You know – the God Hates Fags church that shows up at the funerals of fallen soldiers to protest. Here’s what it says on their website.
“Westboro Baptist Church is a TULIP Baptist Church. We believe — and vigorously preach — the 5 Points of Calvinism (also known as the Doctrines of Grace). Anyone preaching otherwise is a Hell-bound false prophet and a messenger of Satan, to whom we say, “Anathema Maranatha!” Let him be accursed of God!”
Notice the L in TULIP – for Limited Atonement. That’s the belief that Jesus didn’t die for everybody. He only died for the Elect. That’s Calvinism! Now, am I going to say that this is typical of the gospel preached by Calvinists? Of course not, because I’m an adult and I recognize that this guy is part of the lunatic fringe. But if I were to apply the same ethical standards that the guys in the movie do, that’s probably what I would do. So let’s look instead at what a more respectable Calvinist, the late A. W. Pink, said about God’s love in his book “The Sovereignty of God”.
“God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody” …. “It has been customary to say God loves the sinner, though He hates his sin. But that is a meaningless distinction. What is there in a sinner but sin? Is it not true that his “whole head is sick”, and his “whole heart faint”, and that “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness” in him? (Isaiah 1:5,6). Is it true that God loves the one who is despising and rejecting His blessed Son? God is Light as well as Love, and therefore His love must be a holy love. To tell the Christ rejector that God loves him is to cauterize his conscience, as well as to afford him a sense of security in his sins. The fact is, that the love of God, is a truth for the saints only, and to present it to the enemies of God is to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.”
So A. W. Pink didn’t believe that God loves everybody either. Now that sounds kind of harsh, right? But if you think about it, it actually makes sense. God could have created everybody without free will and the capacity for sin and rebellion. That would have ensured that nobody would go to hell. And certainly if God loves everybody He doesn’t want anybody to go to hell. So you have to conclude that either He gave us all free will or He doesn’t love everybody, and since Calvinists reject libertarian free will it would be logical for them to conclude that God doesn’t love everybody, which would explain why they teach that Jesus didn’t die for everybody. So from the Calvinists’ perspective it makes sense to say that He doesn’t love everybody. But most Calvinists refuse to admit that, so they stick with their theology despite this glaring logical contradiction. And then they proceed to critique the gospel as everybody else preaches it.
In this clip you’ll see a teenage girl who was attending Bill Johnson’s school at Bethel until she saw the movie, commenting on the perceived error she heard from Bill Johnson.
Well I just happen to have a copy of the book, and here’s what Bill Johnson actually said:
“Jesus lived His life with human limitations. He laid His divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin, and then die in the place of mankind.”
Bill Johnson never said that Jesus ceased to be God. She added that, no doubt based on the lies she heard coming from these heretic hunters. And in his book “Hosting the Presence” Johnson said:
“Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He is not a created being who somehow ascended to divinity, as some cults claim. He is entirely God, entirely man. But both His life and death were lived as a man. What that means is that He set aside His divinity to live as a man. He was without sin and was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. In doing this, He became a model that we could follow. If He did His great miracles as God, I’m still impressed. But I’m impressed as an observer. When I discover that He did them as man, then suddenly I am completely unsatisfied with life as I’ve known it. I am now compelled to follow this Jesus until the same things start happening in my life.”
And isn’t that consistent with what Jesus said in Mark 16:17,18, that those who believe in Him will lay hands on the sick and they will recover? Contrary to what this young lady and those who are exploiting her claim, Bill Johnson doesn’t deny the eternal deity of Christ, but like John MacArthur he acknowledges that in His humanity Jesus emptied Himself and ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this final clip Bill Johnson clearly says that Jesus is eternally God and willingly set aside His divine capacity.
Okay he said “divine capacity” the first time followed by “ETERNALLY GOD”, but then he said it wrong when he said “divinity”. But I think any objective person can understand what he meant. In Acts 2:40 Peter told the Jews at Pentecost to “save yourselves from this corrupt generation”. Now, the Bible clearly teaches that we can’t save ourselves. So was Peter teaching heresy? Of course not. We understand what he meant. He meant that by believing in and following Jesus who alone can save us from our sins, we in effect are saving ourselves. Well if you just use as much common sense here you can see what Bill Johnson and others are saying.
I could say more about the movie, but this post is long enough already so I’ll save it for another day. As I close, let me remind you of the words of Nabeel Quereshi.
That’s not heresy! Just because people do things or teach things a little different does not make them heretics, and it doesn’t mean that they’re preaching a different gospel. But saying that Jesus didn’t die for everybody? That’s a much more serious doctrinal error than anything that you’ll find in the gospel preached by these so-called prosperity preachers. Some might call THAT heresy.