Blog Post

Is the Word of Faith Movement New Age?

BB asks: "Is the Word of Faith movement New Age?"

Yes! This is a Pentecostal movement founded by Kenneth Hagin, a preacher of the very New Age “prosperity gospel” which believes Jesus wants everyone to be rich, happy and healthy – with little or no mention of the cross.

The Word of Faith (WOF) movement, aka the “name it and claim it” movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement of the late 20th century. It was founded by a man named E. W. Kenyon (1867-1948) who was a student of the New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby (1802-1866) which is where today's New Age movement originated. These teachings were mixed with orthodox Christianity by Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003), who studied under Kenyon and is responsible for founding the WOF movement we know today, which is a non-Biblical mish-mosh of New Age and Christian mysticism.

Kenneth Hagin (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons Images, Deepdown 19, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

For example, the WOF teaches that everyone who believes in Jesus has the right to physical health, wealth, good relationships, etc. This is based upon a belief that words have power and if a person speaks what he wants want, he’ll get it. Believers “claim” healing or prosperity before receiving it as a demonstration of faith which they believe will result in a fulfillment of their words. In other words, there’s no such thing as the Will of God. If the person wills it and speaks it and believes it, they’re entitled to it. This belief is allegedly based on the book of Genesis where God created the universe by speaking it into existence and that God gave his followers the same power of the word, which is referred to by followers as the “force of faith.”

One of the most popular of the WOF preachers is Kenneth Copeland who explains this peculiar belief: “Faith is a power force. It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force. It will move things. Faith will change things. Faith will change the human body. It will change the human mind. It will change the human heart. Faith will change circumstances.”

In other words, faith is not just a theological virtue infused into us in Baptism, but a physical force that can be used to create whatever we want. This is not all that much different from the New Age philosophy known as the Law of Attraction which attributes this kind of power to the mind.

The movement also embraces heretical views about God. For example, about 15 years ago, Copeland gave a prophecy in which he stated that Jesus told him that He never claimed to be God.

In Copeland’s words, the Lord said: Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you of thinking you’re God. . . .They crucified me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah. That’s what you’re doing.”

When asked if he was questioning the deity of Jesus, he vehemently denied it, but then went on to contradict himself by misinterpreting Philippians 2:5-7 by saying that Jesus walked the earth as a man, not as God.

Kenneth Copeland (Photo courtesy of WikiCommons Images, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

Writing from the Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College, Dr. Brian Huffling reveals other strange beliefs of the followers of this movement. “Word of Faith teachers state that God is a physical being who lives on a planet called heaven. According to Copeland, God stands around 6’2″ around 200lbs. Not only that, but God is the ‘greatest failure in the Bible’ since he lost more than any other being at the fall. Further, God has to use faith to do things, like create.” They take it one step further by alleging that God Himself used the “force of faith” to create the world.

Word of Faith followers also believe that because man was created by God, they are in a “god-class” of beings. As Dr. Huffling explains: “We are little gods, according to Copeland (and others like Benny Hinn). As already mentioned, man uses his positive confession to activate the force of faith to control his reality and bring about health and prosperity that was secured by Jesus. Man can function like God, since both man and God use the force of faith.”

He goes on to point out the heresies in these teachings, such as how, if God is physical, then he is limited and unable to be present everywhere all at once, to know all things, to be all powerful.

Followers also believe that Jesus was just a human who had a special anointing and knowledge that enabled him to perform miracles and ultimately defeat Satan.

Dr. Huffling sees worrying similarities between the WOF movement and Mormonism: “Both teach that God is a physical being, people get direct revelation from God even today, we can become gods just like God, both deny the Trinity, and both downplay the role of reason and stress the spirit as a way of learning.”

In spite of how Christian it may sound on the surface, the Word of Faith movement is not Biblical and does not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians should not become involved in this movement.