SOURCE: Word of Faith:
“The Word of Faith movement has many distinctives; although it shares teachings in common with prosperity theology, they are not the same thing. Additionally, many beliefs that the movement holds as essentials are often the target of criticism for having views that diverge from Christian orthodoxy. It emphasizes speaking, stating, or confessing verses found in the Bible, called the Word of God. The belief is that if one believes the Word of God and confesses it then the believer shall receive what they confess. This act of believing and speaking is said to be described by Jesus in Mark 11:22. The term word of faith itself is derived from the biblical passage Romans 10:8 which speaks of ‘the word of faith that we preach.'” – Wikipedia.
Practices of the Word of Faith Movement
Name it & claim it is just one practice from the word of faith movement. Some of the practices of the ‘word of faith’ churches can be deceptive. The minister may pray for prosperity for God’s people (which seems good). Later he’ll mention how giving of our time and assets for a greater good is a virtue of the true Christan (which is true). Sermons start to focus on tithe and giving (which is important). Then the suggested amounts to give become greater and greater. The lies begin when we’re told “If you give us money, God will bless you” (which is true to a point, but completely misses the point of charity. We shouldn’t give to get, we should give to be a blessing to others, just as God is a blessing to us).
At this point, “Name it and claim it” becomes a major focus of the church. We are told that if we ask for wealth, we will receive riches beyond our wildest dreams. If we ask for health, we will never be sick again. One minister went so far as to say that he hadn’t had a headache in 45 years – he didn’t mention his heart problems. The biggest problem with naming and claiming is when ministers say that it works because God has no authority over the earth, that He lost it with the fall of Man. These ministers also say that, since God spoke and the world came into existence, why can’t we do the same? The reason we can’t do the same is we are not God!
Ministers start to use sermons as a way to answer challenges from other theological figures. They’ll say things like “The diamond rings on my hands and the nice car I drive stem from my being a good Christian man”. This still seems fairly innocent, until they start to preach the worst type of insult to their congregation: “If you are poor, your faith is lacking”. Some ministers actually tell people that if they are not blessed with riches, their faith is lacking! The same is done with health, if someone is sick, they’re faith is lacking!
The “name it and claim it” sector, while devastating to the Church as a whole, is not the worst of the word of faith movement. For a minister to get so far off track that he would accuse the poor and the sick of being faithless, there are likely to be other problems with their doctrines. Spiritual experiences are given preference over sound biblical knowledge. They teach that Jesus and his disciples were rich beyond imagination, in an outright denial of Scripture. They tell people that in order to follow in Christ’s footsteps, we are called to be wealthy as well. How do we become wealthy? By naming and claiming our wealth. What will give us God’s favor so that naming and claiming will work? By giving as much as we can to our church, whether we can afford it or not.
I feel the need to stop here and specify that giving to a church is a great thing. Supporting your church is necessary for it to function and for it to help your community. Normal giving and tithe are not the problem, it is the motives behind the giving (and receiving) that can become corrupt.
- What’s Wrong With Word of Faith?
People have asked why I’m against Word of Faith churches. They want to know why I, as a Christian, would say anything against a Christian church. They ask ‘If they are not hurting people, why should I care?’ They also mention that these churches make
- Faith Healings, The Prosperity Gospel, & Other Questionable Teachings
Bad theological advice, teachings such as “we are little gods”, a look at Benny Hinn & his faith healings, and a glimpse of how a non-Christian (or even a Christian!) may react to some of the craziness that goes on in many of our churches.
Sound Biblical Doctrine?
“What if we understood that any sort of foot/leg injury was the symptom that we had become energetically/spiritually unbalanced? What if any kind of *accident* was the message that we had fallen asleep at the wheel, spiritually speaking and that we needed to wake up? …What if we lived in a society where at-risk behaviors, unhealthy lifestyles, even accidents and fatal illnesses were accepted as visible symptoms of *spiritual ill-health*?”Have you ever heard a sermon like this? I have, from a charismatic word of faith church that I used to attend. The problem? I did not quote this from a preacher, I quoted it from a Squidoo lens entitled “Understanding Karma”. These are new age teachings! So why does it closely reflect teachings from the pulpit, or should I ask, why do teachings from the pulpit reflect new age thought??
Relying on Someone Else’s Knowledge
A problem with many Christians, not just the faith movement.
I believe that most of the Church’s problems stem from a lack of understanding. Rather than reading their bibles and thinking for themselves, some would rather just have someone else tell them the answers they want to hear. It is especially detrimental when the minister of the church takes this course. The problem is compounded because the minister repeats the errors rather than discerning the truth for themselves. Relying solely on someone else’s interpretations of the bible, whether it’s from a book, a radio/television preacher, or a church minister, is never the way to go.
When you were a kid, did you ever play the game where all the kids sit in a line, and the first one whispers into the next kids ear, who turns and whispers to the next, and so on until all of the children have heard the secret? Then the last one stands up and tells the secret that they heard. Then the first one stands and tells everyone what the secret was. The two version barely resemble each other! While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to the opinions of others (obviously, otherwise why would I be writing this), you should take the opinions that you hear and test them against the only true source of knowledge that we have – the bible.
Relying on Faith, Not Seeking Knowledge
Another problem with the faith movement is that people have faith in their feelings, rather than on the truth of God’s Word, a sort of faith without knowledge. Just because they feel that something is true, it must be true for them. If that’s the case, then why should anyone believe in anyone else’s beliefs? What is the point of spreading God’s Word if everyone has their own truth? This thought coincides with the secular idea that there are no truths. What is true for one person isn’t necessarily true for the next, because everyone is going on their own feelings. With this thought process, each person finds their own “personal truth”, be it religion (wicca, buddhism, or Christianity – take your choice), be it their view of science (there is actually a society that does not believe in gravity or that the earth is round – aptly named the “Flat Earth Society”), morals (some people don’t believe in having morals, instead living for the moment), etc.
If your argument for your beliefs is that you “feel” it is true, than why bother? If everyone has their own personal truth, than why shouldn’t people do whatever they want? How can any one religion be the true religion, and why try to convert others to Christianity? To take it a step further, would it be wrong for someone to “get rid” of their grandmother if they needed her money? Their personal truth may be that they need that money, and that their grandma never spent enough time with them anyway. Would it be wrong then? What about grandma’s personal truth of wanting to exist? How does her truth measure up to to the other person’s truth?
If God is true for you but not for anyone else, and you stop believing, maybe hell does not exist. Or, maybe if you name it and claim it you can destroy hell so no one has to go there!
Science and Religion – At Odds?
Oddly enough, something that many Christians are afraid of – science – helps to disprove the notion of personal truth. If I believe that there is no gravity, and I step off of a cliff, I’m going to fall. Science does not care what I believe, gravity is a constant. If I feel that I’m a six foot tall, 120 lb. blond goddess, my DNA will not reconstruct, my bones will not grow, and I will stay exactly as I am. Once again, science will not relent to my feelings.
Where did science come from? It is the study of the things around us, the things created by a God who is constant, a God with laws. That’s why many parts of science are so predictable (once we learned how they work). That’s also why it doesn’t relent to us, how we’re feeling, or what we want to be true.
This is another reason that I have a problem with the Name It and Claim It sector of the Church. Just as the way a person feels won’t change the things around them, speaking what they want will not alter the universe just to make what they want happen. You want wealth? Where will it come from? Certainly you could work harder, change jobs, do something to make more money. But it didn’t just fall out of the sky. If God decides someone should be poor, how can they stop Him? No one knows His reasons, yet do people think that they know more than Him? Do they think they are strong enough to go toe to toe with God and win? If anyone answers yes to this, don’t ever stand next to me, I don’t want to get struck by THAT lightening bolt.
My Experiences With the Faith Movement
As you’ve read, I was involved in a word of faith church. For two to three years I attended that church every week. My experience with church was extremely limited before this (I had only attended a church once or twice in my life before joining this church) and I was young when I started at this church (about 17). I had heard that some other church leaders, leaders of the more traditional, “dead” churches, did not agree with the teachings of our church. Since I was so inexperienced with the Church as a whole, I didn’t understand the differences between traditional and charismatic, and I believed that basically there were charismatic churches and there were “dead” churches, and that was it. Not wanting to belong to a dead church, not wanting to be one of the “unsaved”, I stayed with my church.
Once something starts down a wrong path, it can be difficult (or impossible) to get it back where it needs to be. The faith movement can start out innocent enough, but before you know it, blasphemies and heresies can become common place. False healings, being told that if you cannot be “slain” in the spirit that you are not saved, that if you don’t speak in tongues you cannot go to heaven, that if you give more money to the church then God will bless you (if you don’t He will curse you), these things don’t start overnight. First someone had a headache, was prayed for, and they felt better. Then people would occassionally speak in tongues, or someone who was being prayed for would be “overcome” by the Spirit. Then we’d hear about the amazing healings going on in revivals; yet you’d never see one actually happen, you’d never hear about how that person was doing later on. Worship services became total chaos, people screaming in tongues, falling over, while the pastor is repeating the same phrase over and over and the music is blaring in the background. Instead of being a place to come in peace and worship God it became a spectacle.
By the time I left my church, I was so disillusioned that I wanted no part of any church. It took me another five years to join a church, a traditional church, the type that my previous church disapproved of. I’ve heard so many people talk about disillusionment with churches that I want to make it very clear to everyone – faith movement churches are not the only alternative. There are other types of churches, and they are not dead, they are full of spirit, they give of themselves to their communities, and they offer sound biblical doctrine rather than an “experience”.
- Speaking in Tongues
Since speaking in tongues is huge in the Word of Faith movement, I invite you to view my lens about tongues.
What it Takes To Be Ordained as a Presbyterian Pastor
This only explains some of the ordination process, and it doesn’t mention finding or being accepted by a church as Pastor.
I recently learned how my Pastor became ordained. The sheer amount of preparation, study, and the level of scrutiny from the PC(USA) (Presbyterian Church(USA)) was overwhelming. Here is a segment of what their website described:
“Routinely, candidates have a college undergraduate degree (usually four years) and complete a seminary degree (usually three years). In addition, candidates must pass national exams that demonstrate their competence in the fields of theology, Bible (including content and a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew), church polity, and worship and Sacraments.
The candidate is examined by the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and, after presenting a personal statement of faith and preaching a sermon, by the presbytery itself. If the examination is sustained and the candidate receives a valid call to ministry, the presbytery ordains him or her to the office of Minister of the Word and Sacrament. Only a presbytery may ordain a minister, not a congregation. ”
– Taken from the PC(USA) webpage – http://www.pcusa.org/101/101-minister.htm.
What it Takes To Be a Minister of a Non-Denominational Church
You need to find somewhere to worship, and you need people to attend your church.
What about the ordination process? You fill out a form with your name and address (online or by mail), select your new title, and pay a small fee. You are now ordained.
That’s it. No test of biblical knowledge, no checks on basic theology of any kind, no head Church or organization to hold a minister accountable.
I’ll specify here that some ministers of these churches have studied, earned degrees, and earned there positions, but many have not. I will also state that there are cases when people who are called to teach do not need to attend a seminary. But when it comes to the head Pastor of a church, we should expect that they have studied, that they know what they are talking about, and that they are held accountable by somebody if their teachings become inaccurate or dishonest.
Food for Thought
Name It and Claim It gives people the authority of God himself. In fact, many of the faith movement leaders speak about how God has no authority over the earth and he NEEDS US to do his work. Really? Do we really want all of the authority of God? Do we think it’s such a great notion that if we speak something, it will come to pass?
If someone hates you and thinks the world would be better without you, and they Name It and Claim It in the name of Jesus, should your life end? Is Name It and Claim It only for those who have a sound enough mind to use it? Who determines who’s mind is sound? It can’t be God, He has no authority on earth. Should our limited knowledge decide our own (and others) future, instead of leaving it to an all-knowing God?