Previously: What is the Word-Faith movement?
This is the second in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.
The central teaching of the errant Word-Faith movement is that God wills your prosperity and health; therefore, to be a Christian in poverty or ill health is to be outside the will of God.
There is great diversity within the Word-Faith movement, but below are doctrines that most prosperity teachers embrace. Please keep in mind that these are false doctrines, which we address in future columns.
For a more in-depth look at the Word-Faith movement, order The Apologist’s Tool Kit.
The following are drawn largely, but not exclusively, from Robert M. Bowman Jr. in The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel.
False teachings of the Word-Faith movement
People are little gods
Human nature consists of body, soul, and spirit, but the spirit is the real person made in God’s image; therefore, human beings are exact duplicates of God, or little gods. Our problem is that we allow our bodies and souls to control our lives.
Writes Bowman: “This is fundamental for the Word-Faith teachers, since in their view we should disbelieve our senses when they tell us we are sick or poor, and disbelieve our reason when it tells us that the Word-Faith teaching is illogical or false.”
In addition, prosperity preachers urge Christians to see themselves just as much “incarnations of God” as was Jesus because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
God is a lot like us
He is a God that possesses faith. He created the world by faith and accomplishes His will by believing things in His heart and speaking words of faith, thereby bringing things into existence. We may do the same. Incidentally, God, like us, is spirit, soul, and body.
Jesus came to give us back our godhood
When Adam fell, he forfeited his status as the god of this world by obeying Satan, who in turn gained legal dominion over this world and passed Satan’s nature of death, along with sickness and poverty, down to the rest of humanity. Jesus came to create a new race of humans who, like Jesus, would be God incarnate.
Some Word-Faith teachers, like Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, teach that the Word that became incarnate was not the eternal Son of God but God’s Word of promise that He would redeem humanity, and that this Word was “positively confessed” into personal existence through the Virgin Mary.
Jesus went to hell
Jesus died both physically and spiritually on the cross. In dying spiritually he took on Satan’s nature and went to hell, where he was “born again,” rising from the dead with God’s nature.
In hell, not on the cross, Jesus secured our salvation. This paved the way for us to be born again and exhibit God’s nature in our lives.
Faith is believing we have whatever we say
God has faith, and we should, too. Faith is not only believing what God says but also believing that we have whatever we say. Prayer is not just speaking to, or with, God. It is speaking to things and circumstances – like check books and illnesses – and commanding them to do as we say.
This is the basis for the concept of positive and negative confession, the idea that whatever we believe and say, whether good or bad, will come to pass.
We have the right to financial prosperity and good health
Since we are divine spirits created and redeemed to rule our circumstance by speaking words of faith, we are to obtain health and wealth. Since Christ died to free us from the curse of the law, Christians need no longer accept sickness or poverty in their lives.
Christians ought to live in divine health and wealth as a testimony to the power of God and as evidence that they are children of God.
Next: What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement?