Posted by: Damon Whitsell | February 6, 2016

Ex-Word of Faith perspective on the Book of Job by Stephen Rowland

job

While in the Word of Faith movement God started dealing with my heart through that “still small voice.” The first thing that I noticed was that no matter how much they preached about how every one of us should be a “little Jesus,” I never did see any tremendous “mass healings.” Some of the leaders in the movement had sicknesses in their families just like everyone else; no one really walked in divine health all of the time. I also noticed that there were some saints of God who were obviously more spiritually mature than I was at that time and yet they had to deal with illnesses — while I was “healthy as a horse.” On the other hand I noticed there were some rotten sinner boys who were always quite healthy, and some wicked people lived to extremely old ages while some saints died early in life.

Their twisting of the story of Job was what really got my attention. There was a recommended little pamphlet entitled “The truth about Job” which made the following claims:
        1. Job gave way to fear because he was offering sacrifices for his children.
        2. Fear is the opposite of faith and thus is a sin.

        3. Job’s sin is what “lowered the hedge” of God’s protection and got the devil’s attention which allowed access to Job’s life.

A simple cursory reading of the first two chapters of Job dispels that nonsense. Job was not sinning, he was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). Fear is not the opposite of faith, rather unbelief is the opposite. A healthy fear of the Lord is actually the “beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). There was nothing that Job was doing that got the devil’s attention, rather it was God who got the devil’s attention by saying to Satan — “have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him: he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). After all of Job’s tragedy had befallen him, he worshipped and stated “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away…” (Job 1:21). Contrary to the Word of Faith  claim that God never “takes away” (always the devil), Job’s statement is verified as truth in verse 22 “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” The method was the devil, but the authorization was God’s.

The Word of Faith view on Job literally turned the story upside down in order to make it “theologically fit.” The little cracks in my Faith theology were turning into major fissures under the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I was realizing that my beliefs were so black and white, so cut and dried, so simplistic that they could not stand serious scrutiny in light of all God’s Word. When your view is that God is always good and the devil is always bad — which supposedly entails that followers of God are always blessed with good things and people who sin are always cursed with bad things — then the story of Job is a serious impediment. We were literally becoming “Job’s comforters” in putting the blame on Job in order to interpret the Scripture through our Word of Faith lens. Rather than judge believer’s spiritual maturity by their prosperity or good health or tragedy that befalls them, we should have judged by what kind of fruit they bore over an extended period of time — their love for other people and their works to help the helpless or how they struggle to keep all sin out of their lives.

Those widening fissures turned into rushing torrents as I reflected on the sufferings the Apostles of our Lord had to endure both in their ministries (as Paul so often revealed in his epistles) and in their deaths (martyrdom). The simple fact that there have been more martyrs over the past 100 years for the gospel than in all the previous centuries going back to Christ made quite an impact on me. The simplistic “Christians full of faith can expect divine health, good social standing, and financial prosperity while sinners can expect sickness, disease, accidents, poor social standing and financial ruin” often didn’t match up to observed reality around me through the years and I didn’t relish the idea of being a schizophrenic Christian.

In general the Word of Faith movement puts physical healing largely in the hands of the individual which assumes an implicit blame on that individual if healing is not obtained. The Pentecostal position puts more control in the hands of a sovereign God and has theological allowances for delays or non-healings. The A/G website under “subject topics” has an article (under “h” for healing) about the role of positive confession in the Word of Faith movement which addresses that particular facet of Word of Faith theology rather nicely. In my studies at Global University, D.R. McConnell’s book “A Different Gospel” was a required textbook and was excellent in showing the connection between Kenneth Hagin’s theology and the metaphysical cults through his plagiarism of E.W. Kenyon. Prior to my enrollment at Global I had found three books instrumental in detailing the abuses of Word of Faith theology:  “The Seduction of Christianity” by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon and its sequel “Beyond Seduction” (although the reader should be aware of Hunt’s bias against Pentecostals who speak in tongues), and “God Wants You Rich and Other Enticing Doctrines” by Florence Bulle. Those books documented for me what God had been dealing with my heart about while in the Word of Faith movement.

(The author of  this article Stephen Rowland contacted me about contributing to this blog and I am glad he did. I was happy with is perspective and writing abilities and I hope he will submit more writings to be posted here as a guest writer – Damon)

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