Friday, January 23, 2009

The Secret/ Word of Faith Movement/ Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century

One of the reasons that the Word of Faith movement has become so popular in Christian and secular-settings is that everyone wants to know the “secret.” Everyone wants to have the “magic bullet;” you know, the secret to health; the secret to wealth; the secret to successful relationships; the secret to making a fortune on Wall Street –– if that is even possible anymore –– the secret to maintaining your perfect weight. The list is endless. Thus, when Rhonda Byrne informed the world she had discovered “the Secret to life”–– a secret harnessed by “the greatest people in history: Plato, Shakespeare…Lincoln… Einstein”— the world stood up and took notice. Within weeks, The Secret topped bestseller lists and morphed into a cultural phenomenon. In fact, on January 15, 2009, their going to have a special theater event, hosted by Lisa Gibbons entitled, Beyond the Secret. So it’s taken on a life of its own because it gives simple formulas or fast food formulas for very complex problems.

You ask, “What is the Secret?” Well, according to Rhonda Byrne it’s “the law of attraction.” Byrne continues, “The greatest teachers who have ever lived have told us that the law of attraction is the most powerful law in the Universe.” Byrne also adds, “You create your life through your thoughts.” Byrne also claims that “the Creative Process used in The Secret, which was taken from the New Testament in the Bible, is an easy guideline for you to create what you want in three simple steps. Ask, Believe, Receive.”

Does this sound familiar? Kenneth Hagin had the exact same formula as the father of the Faith Movement.

Byrne points to herself as a prime example. To transform herself from fat to thin, she thought thin thoughts, and did not so much as look at fat people, she says, “If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.” As a result she says, “I now maintain my perfect weight of 116 pounds, and I can eat whatever I want.” According to The Secret, the error is to think that food is responsible for weight gain. In short, for Rhonda Byrne thoughts are the primary cause of everything––whether good or bad. On one hand, thin thoughts produce thin bodies; on the other, six million Jews brought the horrors of the holocaust upon themselves. According to The Secret, “The law of attraction never slips up.”[1]

For Rhonda Byrne, the genie that causes the universe to give you whatever you want is the law of attraction; however, here’s where I want to turn a corner, for Joel Osteen –– who is communicating from a quasi-Christian pulpit –– it is the word of faith; that is our genie. Osteen is committed to the notion that faith is a force, that words are the containers of the force, and that through the force of faith, one can create their own reality. As he explains in his mega best seller, Your Best Life Now, “You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give birth to it. This is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you’re saying is good or bad, positive or negative.”

While I want to make clear that Osteen and Byrne have noteworthy differences, they are united in the belief that the force of faith is so powerful that even God –– however you may define him –– is bound by its irrevocable reality.

If occult sources, such as those referenced in The Secret, pose the greatest threat to the body of Christ from without, I contend that the deadly doctrines disseminated by these prosperity preachers pose the greatest threat to Christianity from within. To avert this crisis, a paradigm shift of major proportions is desperately needed––a shift from perceiving God as a means to an end, to recognition that He is the end.

And while change must come, it clearly will not come easily. Those who are dispensing spiritual cyanide by the mega-dose occupy powerful platforms within evangelical Christianity. They’re like the popes in the medieval church. If people like John Hus dare speak out against indulgence, or John Wycliffe speak out against transubstantiation and indulges, if Wycliffe dared to take the Bible and translate it into the language of the people, there were consequences. That’s why Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed, burned and ashes spread to the wind. That’s why Hus was burned at the stake in the midst of his writings. That’s why William Tyndale died; his body ablaze and cried out, “O Lord, open the eyes of England’s King.” The problem then was that people were biblically illiterate because there were no Bibles in English. Today we have another problem, we have all kinds of Bibles, but we are not reading them. Therefore, we are falling prey to a brand new generation of prosperity popes. They control vast resources, and stand to lose multiplied millions of dollars, if they are exposed. The stakes are so high that those who are plunging Christianity into crisis are willing to do and say virtually anything to silence opposition.


Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), went so far as to suggest that if God does not kill “heresy hunters” like me, he will. Benny Hinn took it a step further. On TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program, he said, “You have attacked me. Your children will pay for it.”

Despite whatever threats they may make, despite consequences, I am absolutely resolutely convinced that Christianity In Crisis––The 21st Century is a book that needed to be written. A book that I pray will serve not only to expose the cancer that is ravaging the body of Christ from within, but will also serve to effect enduring changes among those who dare to take the sacred name “Christian” upon their lips.

When I first wrote about this subject beginning in 1990 with the original Christianity in Crisis, I have often said if I knew what I would face as a result of writing that book, I would have never written it. A lot of people immediately jumped on me and said that is cowardice. What I was trying to communicate to people is simply this, God gives us the grace we need and often times He does not give us the grace we need until the moment we need it.

If I took it on the chin as a result of writing the original Christianity in Crisis what in the world would posses me to write Christianity In Crisis––The 21st Century? I answer that question and address a lot of other issues on the Word of Faith Movement on the January 13th and 14th shows of the Bible Answer Man. You can access that off our front page under the “Today’s Broadcast” link.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would have to strongly disagree, I think this is the conclusive result of "decision" theology in all it's glory. Having steped away from a Christ centered cross focused faith to a seeker sencitive church growth "me" centered faith no longer holding to the five solas we might as well go back under Trent like Rick Waren says "it takes more than faith to please God". I saw the case for faith movie on none other than TBN and I never once heard the power of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel only how a atheist can reason his way to faith and salvation. A sad place we have come to.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

While I seldom agree with you on the application of Christian faith to worldly and national political controversy, I am grateful for your consistent critique of turning God into some kind of slot machine, with a guaranteed big payoff. I used to rent a room from an Ethiopian immigrant in DC (now a U.S. citizen), who listened to your radio program every week. It was worth hearing, usually while I was cooking something for dinner. There is one thing we should learn from having so many translations of the Bible: what we have is not the Complete and Perfect Word of God. What we have is the best available record, and many interpretations, of what God has tried to tell humans over several millenia. It is always worth studying, but we should be careful not to tell our neighbor, now I know The Truth. And always, the broad contours, rather than turning the meaning of this or that verse, are our best guide to what God expects of us.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

While I seldom agree with you on the application of Christian faith to worldly and national political controversy, I am grateful for your consistent critique of turning God into some kind of slot machine, with a guaranteed big payoff. I used to rent a room from an Ethiopian immigrant in DC (now a U.S. citizen), who listened to your radio program every week. It was worth hearing, usually while I was cooking something for dinner. There is one thing we should learn from having so many translations of the Bible: what we have is not the Complete and Perfect Word of God. What we have is the best available record, and many interpretations, of what God has tried to tell humans over several millenia. It is always worth studying, but we should be careful not to tell our neighbor, now I know The Truth. And always, the broad contours, rather than turning the meaning of this or that verse, are our best guide to what God expects of us.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

While I seldom agree with you on the application of Christian faith to worldly and national political controversy, I am grateful for your consistent critique of turning God into some kind of slot machine, with a guaranteed big payoff. I used to rent a room from an Ethiopian immigrant in DC (now a U.S. citizen), who listened to your radio program every week. It was worth hearing, usually while I was cooking something for dinner. There is one thing we should learn from having so many translations of the Bible: what we have is not the Complete and Perfect Word of God. What we have is the best available record, and many interpretations, of what God has tried to tell humans over several millenia. It is always worth studying, but we should be careful not to tell our neighbor, now I know The Truth. And always, the broad contours, rather than turning the meaning of this or that verse, are our best guide to what God expects of us.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

While I seldom agree with you on the application of Christian faith to worldly and national political controversy, I am grateful for your consistent critique of turning God into some kind of slot machine, with a guaranteed big payoff. I used to rent a room from an Ethiopian immigrant in DC (now a U.S. citizen), who listened to your radio program every week. It was worth hearing, usually while I was cooking something for dinner. There is one thing we should learn from having so many translations of the Bible: what we have is not the Complete and Perfect Word of God. What we have is the best available record, and many interpretations, of what God has tried to tell humans over several millenia. It is always worth studying, but we should be careful not to tell our neighbor, now I know The Truth. And always, the broad contours, rather than turning the meaning of this or that verse, are our best guide to what God expects of us.

LionHeart said...

Christianity In Crisis book 1 was a book that was full of misleading inaccuracies and outright lies. I am sure Book II will be more of the same. The balanced Word Of Faith message has saved my life.Speaking the promises of God from our heart full of faith will move mountains. Jesus said so.... Mark 11:23

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Jesus also drove the moneylenders out of the Temple. I appreciate that Hank, in a modest sort of way, tries to emulate that example.

janet bell said...

what is your opinion on brent bill's book and workshop " the spiritual compass" and richard foster's similar theology.
i find the idea of referring to your "compass" rather than holy spirit a bit troubling.
i also find contemplative worship along the lines of mystics rather than scriptural meditation.
please comment- thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hank
After many years of disagreeing with you about the Word of Faith I now strongly agree. The paradigm shift that is needed is the debate of subjective or objective genitive faith in (OG) or faith of (SG). With the shift in understanding to SG faith of we leave faith as a force (error) to the faithfulness of the one covenant creator God revealed in the faith of Jesus Christ.
Ron Sirkel

Anonymous said...

The one question I don't think I have ever heard you asked or answer is: Is God bound by His Word?

If God says he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and yesterday he performed miracles, healings, etc., why wouldn't that continue today? Did he put a expiration date on those actions?

You commonly say that "Word/Faith" teachers say they can bind God with their words; then you pronounce that to be proposterous, and, if it was that simple, I would agree. But what you leave out is the part about God's Word (and thereby, His promises). Malachi 3 says, for example, that if we tythe, He will rebuke the devourer for our sakes. Is that a promise I can expect He will keep (the famous Andrew Kerr, the jar maker, would say so)? I could continue this for every promise in the Word, but I will end with just one more:

Mark 11:22-24?

:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (NKJV)

What do these verses mean axactly?
Can I have what is Biblically promised to me by the Word of God or not (and I don't mean asking for a Yacht)??? You recently told my Father-in-law on a cruise (and a golf course) that this logic is occultic. If you feel that strongly, you should have no problem answering my questions.

Thanks Mr. Hanegraaff,

Sincerely,

Lucas L. Thompson

jesus said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://powerleveling.info

Travis said...

"Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." James 4:2b-3 (NKJV)

I believe the Bible teaches that God gives to those who ask IF
1. They ask in faith
2. They ask according to God's will

It sounds as if some people are missing the second point.

An important thing to ask is: do I desire what God desires, am I seeking his kingdom?

God is truly powerful and fulfills his promises but he wants us to love Him first not the things of this world.

blessings,

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