I (Dee) would like to take a moment to thank Deb who has carried this blog for the last month. I had a total knee replacement in late December and was not prepared for the degree of pain I experienced as well as the extended lack of mobility (even though I am a nurse). Prior to the surgery, I thought I might be out of commission for just a couple of weeks. That was naïve, and the two weeks morphed into a month. Deb graciously carried on without complaint, often cheerily saying that she was “having lots of fun”! So, I want to tell all who read this blog how wonderful it is to have such a great friend and co-writer. Friendships like this are hard to find, and I am certainly blessed by Deb. Thanks, “pardner!”
Many of our readers are probably relieved that we are FINALLY wrapping up our coverage of the Word of Faith / Health and Wealth / Name it and Claim It movement. We have been deeply concerned about the great deception being perpetrated by these prosperity preachers. When we began The Wartburg Watch, we resolved that once we opened up this can of worms we would conduct a thorough investigation, which we hope we have done…
As we wrap up this series, I (Dee) wanted to weigh in with some thoughts of my own. When I first became a Christian at 17 years of age, I was “invited” to attend a rally put on by some Pentecostals in my hometown near Boston. For those of you not familiar with the northeast region of our country, evangelicals were hard to find in the 1970s. Add the label of Pentecostal and the numbers are even fewer.
Off I went, unsuspectingly, to a small church that had about 20 people in attendance. The pastor had a prophecy that a new person in attendance needed to receive the Holy Spirit. I looked around and realized that I was the only “new” person in the gathering. Before I could find an exit, I was hauled to my feet by the pastor and was surrounded by the church members all muttering in strange words (no interpreter) and they laid hands on me, begging God, apparently, to give me this peculiar gift. I stood there, absolutely flabbergasted and silently prayed for God to get me out of Dodge! Looking back, I also believe that they wanted me to fall to the ground, especially with the preacher yelling something along the lines of “Slay her, Lord, slay her.”
Well, the prayers didn’t take and I never spoke in tongues or fell to the ground, overcome! At that point, I decided to get serious about studying the Bible and also resolved to stay away from “unusual” gatherings in which I was the only “new” girl in town.
The charismatic movement is now, with a few exceptions, in bed with the word of faith movement.
There used to be a distinction between these two movements. However, as the charismatic movement developed excesses such as the “laughter” idiocy and people quacking like ducks in the pulpit (The Vineyard Movement), charismatics became increasingly accepting of the unbiblical nature of the health and wealth Gospel.
There has been no objective data that accurately reports whether healings have actually occurred as claimed by faith healers of the likes of Benny Hinn. In fact, it is highly likely that they are all frauds.
It is evident that these supposed healers carefully screen those who come to their healing services. They rarely, if ever, will accept quadriplegics or those with other serious, outward appearing illnesses onto the stage for “healing.” Many of those who are supposedly healed of cancer, etc., are not followed up after the pronouncement of healing. Stories abound of “healed” cancer victims dying within days or weeks of their “healing.
At this point, I feel it necessary to make a strong statement. I believe that if sound scientific studies (which are randomized and double-blinded) are allowed to occur, the results will be devastating for the faith healers. I would wager that the healing rates would mimic the healing rates of those who do not attend such services. I also believe that Christians should be the first ones to demand proof of claims made by the healers. Jesus, after healing the lepers, sent them to the priests for verification. Should Christians stand for anything less?
Promising people that God wants them to drive Rolls Royces and telling folks that Jesus was wealthy is a perversion of the Gospel.
Can you imagine these “preachers” telling the people in the persecuted church that God wants them to drive Mercedes and live in mansions on this earth? This is sick nonsense and one day these purveyors of lies will stand before the living God without their Rolexes and mansions. Our question is this — Do they believe Jesus is preparing a mansion in heaven that they will occupy or have they gotten their heart’s desire here on earth?
Slaying people in the spirit is definitely NOT Biblical.
Why? There is nothing that supports such a phenomenon in Scripture.
It is unbiblical to promise riches or healing in exchange for contributions.
This one is simple. Give one example of Jesus promising healing for a simple contribution. Nuff said.
It is unbiblical to promise to pray for people in exchange for contributions.
Once again, did Jesus ever do this? Who doesn’t remember the demise of the Word of Faith leader, Robert Tilton? People would send in money and the “ministry” would dump the requests for prayers into the dumpster.
Claiming that words, in and of themselves, hold power and can force God to act is unbiblical.
In fact, I am going out on a limb and warning that this is not Christianity. It is a false faith. The only word that has power is The Living Word, Jesus Christ.
Christian leaders and followers must reject urban legends and not be guilty of spreading lies.
Years ago, I was attending a Bible study in which a member made the claim that Procter and Gamble executives had appeared on television and said that they were Satan worshippers. She called for a boycott of P&G. I asked her if she had actually seen the program. When she said yes, I told her she was lying because such a show never occurred and that she could get sued for spreading false information. I went on to say that, as followers of the Truth, we must speak truth and not lies. Unfortunately, this rumor has persisted and
I have even seen pastors who spread such nonsense around. Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, and Pat Robertson (Haitians made a deal with the devil) are guilty of this and, as such, should not be trusted in anything else that they say.
Christian pastors must take a proactive stance on the issues surrounding the Word of Faith movement and clearly condemn such excesses.
I have explained to former pastors that there were a significant number of church members who follow the likes of Osteen and Hinn. I asked them to speak out against these charlatans from the pulpit. They refused, claiming that they didn’t need to since their teaching was clear on this matter. Sorry, boys, it’s not and you have some seriously misguided members who need far better teaching than you are now offering.
Pastors and Word of Faith types who live extravagant lifestyles are to be suspect.
Jesus lived a simple lifestyle. As such, people realized that He was not out for personal gain and that caused them to trust Him. Today, far too many church leaders live lifestyles far in excess of those they serve and yet they beg for the tithe of those who are struggling to make ends meet. How dare they ask for those living hand to mouth to tithe so their pastor/preacher can live in fancy houses and drive fancy cars. In fact, we wonder if these people are even Christian. They talk the talk but they walk in Sesto Menuccis.
Average Christians MUST become educated so that they can spot unbiblical movements.
Jesus warned that in the latter days there would be many false prophets (which can also be spelled “profits”). In the end, every Christian is responsible for discerning right from wrong.
One day, I (Dee) talked with a lady in my prayer group. This lady was selling a new “Biblical” product that involved therapeutic scents “right out of the Bible.” I asked her for the verses for such things. Well, she couldn’t remember them. Then I asked her if the products did what she claimed. She said she heard many stories of their effectiveness. I asked her for any randomized, double blind studies that prove her claims. She became concerned and said, “It’s in the Bible.” Well no it isn’t and she didn’t care enough to prove it to herself.
Anytime anyone adds to stories in the Bible or adds to what needs to happen in order to follow the faith, said person should not be followed.
Many in the Word of faith movement have visions of Jesus battling Satan in hell to obtain the keys to heaven. Others claim that Christians must believe that Jesus went to hell after His crucifixion in order to be saved. Well, none of this is in the Bible. The Bible, in Revelation, clearly states that anyone who adds to the Scriptures will be condemned. Unfortunately, we don’t do much of this in our society. In fact, we embrace those who add to the Bible.
Revelation 22:18-19 (New International Version) warns everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
What’s the bottom line? Quite simply, there is very little in the Word of Faith or the Health Wealth Gospel that appears to be based on sound Biblical doctrine. As such, concerned Christians should avoid this movement like the plague and condemn its excesses. Compassion must be shown to those who have been deceived by prosperity pimps. Eventually, most people who buy this nonsense will get hurt. They will become neither rich nor healthy. They will also note that the only ones getting rich are the guys up front. When the blinders come off, it will be up to us as Christians to lead these folks to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.