Previously: What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement?
This is the fourth in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.
Following are a few examples of Scriptures prosperity preachers twist to promote their health-and-wealth gospel. A more complete treatment is available in The Apologist’s Tool Kit, available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
Prov. 6:2 – You have been trapped by the words of your lips – ensnared by the words of your mouth.
Word-Faith leaders quote this verse to illustrate that our words have power. If we speak positively, we get positive results. But if we speak “negative confessions,” we get negative results.
In truth, this proverb teaches nothing of the kind. Solomon simply points out that whenever you enter into an agreement with someone, you are honor-bound to fulfill it. Nowhere does Scripture teach that our words create reality.
This is the third in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.
The Word-Faith movement, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, is leading millions of people to embrace false teachings.
Consider the movement’s following errors:
The Word-Faith movement abuses the Bible.
While prosperity preachers proclaim the Bible as the source of their teaching, they consistently fail to correctly teach the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
Specifically, they commit three common errors of biblical interpretation:
- They ignore the context. A single verse, such as 3 John 2, must be read as part of the full narrative, and the full narrative must be considered in light of the intended audience and in comparison with the rest of Scripture.
- They rely on extra-biblical experiences to establish their interpretations of Scripture. It is not uncommon to hear leaders like Kenneth Copeland say that God spoke to them in an audible voice or appeared to them in a vision. This is not to deny that the Lord may use dreams and visions to speak to people today. However, we must lay all experiences against the yardstick of Scripture. The canon is closed, and we must take pains not to add to or take away from God’s word.
- They begin with beliefs rather than with the Bible. Based on “dreams,” “visions,” “prophecies,” and other subjective experiences, they formulate new teachings that tickle the ear rather than lead to godliness (2 Tim. 4:3).
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.
This is the first in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.
Does God want me rich? Can my words create reality? Are human beings little gods?
Almost without exception, leaders of today’s Word-Faith movement answer these questions with a resounding, “Yes!”
While elements of the Word-Faith movement are as old as first-century false teachings, the so-called Prosperity Gospel has borrowed from the more recent “mind sciences” and radical Pentecostalism to become a leading form of noxious Christianity.
Using satellite broadcasts, the Internet, best-selling books, social media, and stadium-size venues, today’s “health and wealth” preachers are convincing millions of people that material wealth and physical well-being are available through the creative power of our words.
But is the Word-Faith movement orthodox in its doctrine? What exactly is the Word of Faith movement? Where did it come from? And who are its leaders?
Many Christians struggling with addictive behaviors, bad relationships, or dire circumstances wonder if they are victims of generational curses. In other words, they worry that God is punishing them for the sins of their ancestors.
Prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen lend credence to this notion. “The things you struggle with – they didn’t just happen to show up,” he says in a video message. “Somebody in your family line opened the door…. It will continue until somebody rises up and puts a stop to it. Somebody has to deactivate that gene.”
Osteen blends a portion of Deut. 30:19 with commentary, “‘I set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.’ Notice your decisions don’t just affect you, they affect future generations.”
Proponents of generational curses cite additional Bible passages such as:
Ex. 20:5 – “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations …”
Ex. 34:7 – “But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”
Similar warnings are repeated in Num. 14:18 and Deut. 5:9.
So, does the Bible really teach generational curses?