The “Cruelty” of the Word of Faith Movement –

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – August 2004 – Vol 8. Issue 8 – The “Cruelty” of the Word of Faith Movement – by Robert S. Liichow

scanKC0001

One of the spiritual truths that have been “restored” to me since being involved in this aspect of Christ’s ministry is the value of people, real people with needs, hurts, joys and wisdom. We are all members of one body and we all have equal value in the eyes of God and none of us is unimportant or unnecessary to the furthering of God’s will in the earth.

In this article I will focus on three aspects which are particularly cruel and abusive which are commonplace in the majority of congregations or ministries within this “movement.”

                            Lords and Not Leaders

Being set free from the miasma of spiritual bondage and heresy I now see very clearly how many times God’s people were (and are) viewed as merely a means to an end by various abusive leaders. I can attest to the fact that within the Word of Faith Movement (WOF) people are often treated as objects, as names without faces on a mailing list whose role is to further the ambitions of the leader of that specific ministry. One former restored “apostle” Ellis Smith stood up before the congregation one Sunday and declared “God doesn’t care about you, He cares about His purpose.”  The congregants were reduced to being pieces on a cosmic chessboard to be moved around according to the divine purpose as revealed to the apostle Smith.

Every WOF ministry and church is ultimately run by one individual. These men and women may carry various titles such as Apostle, Prophet, Pastor or Bishop and they are always at the top of the food-chain and everyone else is subservient to them. If he or she has a church they may have elders and even some deacons, but the ultimate decision maker is going to be the Pastor/Prophet/Apostle, etc.

scan2004fm0001Having served both as a teaching elder and pastor in a couple of WOF congregations I remember a visit we had from a so-called “prophet” who also served as a pastor over a very young college-age congregation. In an elders meeting, he told us the following: “whenever I meet with my elders whoever hears something different from God than what I’ve heard is wrong.”  (1) In other words, even though God had raised up individuals as elders in his local church his insights were the only ones of consequence.

The pastor within any WOF congregation is the supreme potentate. His role is to “hear” from God, cast the vision for the church and direct the people to bring it to pass. These pastors perfectly fit the warnings given through Jeremiah and Ezekiel to the shepherds of Israel in the Old Testament:

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. Jerm 23:1,2  (KJV)

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up [that which was] broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.  And they were scattered, because [there is] no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek [after them].   Exek. 34:2-6 (KJV)

Anyone reading this article with a WOF background knows from their own personal experience how many times people (God’s sheep) were driven out of a congregation because they questioned the pastor. Every WOF pastor is certainly numbered among the wealthiest in their congregation. These men and women literally take care of themselves and their families first and foremost. They sacrifice very little for the sake of their congregations.

In fact the same pastor/prophet told us in the same series of meetings he held at our former church that now since our pastor, Ellis Smith, had been elevated to the role of an “Apostle” we should not expect him to visit the sick in the hospital nor expect him to give people a lift to church who need a ride. His role from now on was simply to get into the Word and fast and pray (see Acts 6:4). Those mundane tasks were for the elders to handle and let the Apostle, do the serious spiritual work!

It was about at this same time, early 1990’s, that a new ministry was being “restored” back to the Church, that of the Armor Bearer. Books began to be published on this topic, and seminars given on how to enter into this exciting role. (2) Some of you reading this may have never heard of such a ministry and maybe some of you who are students of Church History may wonder when such a “ministry” existed within the Church. Allow me to give you a brief description of the role of the armor bearer, according to the blurb on Nance’s second book:

Basically, the theme of this book is to be content to be an faithful “behind the scenes” person, pay your dues, and in God’s time you will be promoted to increased visibility and responsibility. Nance uses the armor bearer analogy to make his point.   (3)

Regarding Nance’s book, Bishop T.D. Jakes says the following:

God’s Armor Bearer is an insightful book at a neglected ministry that needs desperately to be rekindled in the kingdom. I believe it is essential for every sincere Christian to read and apply. That is the reason that I purchased 5,000 of the books for use at our church. The Potter’s House. I would simply be afraid to command any troops into battle that had not read it. (4)

An armor bearer is the person who serves the needs of the pastor/leader. In our former church that included “guarding” the outside door to the pastors office and “vetting” anyone who wanted to inquire of the man-of-God. The armor bearer carried the pastor’s Bible before him as he entered the sanctuary, walked him off the platform (sort of like a body guard) so the people would not drain his anointing (I kid you not). Sometimes the armor bearer drove the pastor’s wife home pre-heated their car in the winter and ran the air conditioning for them in the summer.

Note that the quote states that one must “pay your dues.” In other words, do this menial task and faithfully serve the person of “God” and one day in Gods time you will get spiritually promoted and have someone else serve you.

Within charismatic extremism this role is a coveted one for several reasons. First,  The armor bearer has access to the “anointed” one and has the power to somewhat decide who can or cannot have an audience with the august personage. Secondly, the carrot on the stick is that one day enough of the godly ones anointing will rub off on you that you can launch out into your own ministry! You learn the tricks of the trade so to speak by serving as chauffer, coat holder, Bible bearer, etc…

However, there are problems with this “ministry.” First of all it is not found within the New Testament or the history of the Church. Armor bearers are mentioned briefly in the Old Testament and when it is spoken of it has no spiritual significance. More importantly it violates one of the main teachings of our Lord Jesus regarding leadership in the Church by elevating the slave to the position of being the absolute dictator:

“But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you; but whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45 KJV).

Jesus outlines very dynamically the foremost quality of a biblical leader–that of a servant. The world (Gentiles) exercise lordship over those they lead, “But so shall it not be among you.”  What we have in the WOF cult and other forms of charismatic extremist groups and ministries is exactly the opposite of the commandment given by Jesus. In all honest I cannot say I have ever met a genuine servant-leader while a part of the charismatic movement. Al the pastors/prophets/apostles either had an exalted view of themselves and/or their calling, When they got big enough incorporated “armor bearers” around them to shield them from having much real contact at all with those they say they minister to. For example, try to approach Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, or Fred Price either after a convention meeting or in their church and see how close you can get to these “servants” of Christ. I can assure you the pastors of large WOF congregations do not perform marriages, funerals, visit the sick in the hospitals, clean toilets or take out the trash. There is one exception to this statement; they will marry or bury someone who has been either a big giver (those who give the most always have access to the pastor, whereas others do not) or is a prominent member of the community.

The majority of WOF pastors rule their congregations by spiritual coercion i.e. they misinterpret biblical texts and by doing so place their people in spiritual bondage. (5) These ministers do not allow anyone to question their beliefs, teachings or even their lifestyles. My wife and I have heard countless sermons about the great danger inherent in touching God’s “anointed” after all 1 Ch. 16:22 says: “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” This was always interpreted to mean that no one was to ever question the doctrine or direction of our leader(s). We were often reminded of what happened to those who came against Moses. Anyone who was beneath the pastor had one role to fill—simply obey the leader without any questions and in the words of Kenneth Hagin Sr. we were told to “doubt our doubts.”

It has been a longstanding teaching within the WOF cult that as a pastor one cannot allow the sheep to get too close to you as a leader. Mark Barclay, one of the more controlling “Apostles” in Michigan has written many books on this topic including one we had to read titled; “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Familiarity.” So not only were future pastors taught not to allow their congregation to get too close to them as pastors, but the people are also taught not to fall into the sin of becoming too familiar with our pastor! The end result is an exalted view of the ministry of the pastor, a view that is unbiblical and one that lends itself to spiritual abuse. Never forget the old adage : “the best of men are men at best.”

Cruel Confessions

Probably one of the cruelest elements of any aberrant system is rooted in false doctrines. In the case of any charismatic extremist group, their scripture twisting deludes their followers into thinking they will be brought nearer to the Lord through their practice, when in reality the practitioner is carried further from the One whom they seek to know.

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  John 8:31-32 (KJV)

Just as continuing in the Word of the Lord (i.e. when it is properly taught and understood) proves that one is a disciple of Jesus and the Word rightly taught and understood liberated the one who hears and does the Word. The opposite is just as true. The Word of God taught incorrectly and then misapplied will place people in spiritual bondage, which is what happens to those enmeshed in the WOF cult.

In the cult we were taught that our words had the power to create or destroy, it was up to us. The condition a person was in whether it was financial, martial, physical was generally brought back to their negative words or if things were going well, then to their faith-filled words.

On a pastoral level I could never be sure where someone was in their spiritual walk because we had been programmed to confess only the positive promises found in the Bible. So when I’d ask someone “how are you doing my brother?” The scripted response would be something like “I’m blessed brother, God is good all the time and the devil is a liar!” In reality that individual may have been headed to bankruptcy or divorce court but they could not share this because it would somehow give power to the devil to transmute these negative words into reality.

Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Proverbs 6:2 (KJV) Peasant words [are as] an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (KJV).

See! Its right there in the Holy Bible—people are snared by their words and are even taken captive by the devil by their words. On the other had, pleasant words are sweet and can even provide health to our very bones.

WOF people are afraid to speak negative words, their efforts to speak only the positive desired result is really motivated by fear (which as we all know is the opposite of faith) of what will happen to them if they slip up. Can you see how just this one area of false doctrine (which is huge) places people into spiritual bondage? Also, the strain of denying reality by declaring a “greater” spiritual reality into existence is at its very core a doctrine of works and not of grace.

Congregational members do not have the freedom to speak openly and honestly with their pastor (because he will rebuke them, nor can they be honest with others around them (lest they seem less spiritual) and n the end many people end u on the spiritual junk heap due to the strain of being positive in the midst of their pain.

Our words (confession) will either put us over or put us under. Let’s quote Kenneth Copeland, the heir of the WOF throne since the death of Kenneth Hagin Sr.:

“When you discover who you are in Jesus, your entire existence—your health, your financial life your social life—will take on a new meaning. The storms of lie will be stopped a you exert pressure on them with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. You are to reign as a king under your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth! Hallelujah! God sees you this way. He expects you to take your rightful place and live this kind of life above the beggarly elements of the world… As a born-again child of God, you are to be a superman in the eyes of the world, holding forth the Word of Life! When you cross the rough spots, you won’t knuckle under—you will stand tall and triumph over-them. You will walk hand in hand with Jesus through the storms of life and come out victoriously!  (6)

Every person we knew, including ourselves, was striving to be exactly what Mr. Copeland described in the above passage. Every problem we faced was to be dealt a defeating blow as we boldly declared the promises of God in the power of the Spirit. We were working hard to reign in this life as literal kings! To do any less was to fall far short of our heavenly Father’s expectation for us. To be (or remain) poor or sick was displeasing to God. Nothing less than complete triumph over the storms of life was acceptable to God and our leaders.

Sadly, millions of professing Christians are on the treadmill of works, striving to attain “mastery” over all the beggarly elements of this fallen world through implementing the various sets of spiritual laws and principles taught by Copeland, Price, Duplantis, Meyer, Dollar, Tilton, Capps, Savelle, Hayes, et al.

What is tragic and cruel is that no matter how hard people strive, how many confessions they make, regardless of how much money they give…what they are trying to accomplish simply will not come to fruition because it is all based on a wrong interpretation of the Bible.

The Harm Caused by the WOF View of Divine Healing

My wife has a cousin who is dying of cancer.  Certainly we believe that Jesus still heals His people but today we know that He does so according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will. We may ask for His healing touch, but we must also be humble enough to accept the fact that we do not always receive what we ask for. Sometimes physical healing is not His will in every case. What is cruel is that Chuck, Tracy’s cousin, is surrounded by positive confession friends and family members who are doing nothing but speaking positive affirmations around him. Giving someone a false hope is cruel. Not ministering to a person in real pain with the comfort given to us in the scriptures is cruel. Having an individual question themselves regarding any past or “hidden” sins is cruel. I remember Copeland saying in one of his meetings  “if you play the game right you win.” Sick people are not playing the game correctly! Marilyn Hickey taught me in Robert Tilton’s Bible School that according to Proverbs 26:2 “As the bird by wandering as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”

Whenever someone is sick there is a cause and the cause is usually found within the sick individual. They sinned, they spoke against God’s anointed, they failed to tithe, they spoke negative fear-filled words and Satan brought them to pass in their life or they just had “head Knowledge” of God’s healing promises versus obtaining “revelation Knowledge.” The burden for obtaining the promised results was (and is) always placed squarely at the feet of the one who is at their weakest point. Fred Price, an internationally know WOF pastor says the following:

“But if I walk rightly, and if I walk in line with the Word of God, I am thoroughly convinced I can be free from sickness and disease. (7)

According to Mr. Price healing is the will of God for all of God’s children, but it is dependent upon them walking “in line” with the Word of God. Thus if one is sick, it is obvious that they have not been walking in line with God’s Word. Further on in the same book Mr. Price makes this declaration:

“If Jesus didn’t want sickness in His boy then, He doesn’t want sickness in His body now. That ought to tell you that it’s not possible that God could want anybody sick. NOT IN HIS BODY! (8)

Price makes the mistake of teaching that we are the literal “body of Christ”. That Jesus is the Head, and we in the Church are His actual body. This view is aberrant and it has never been the view of the Church from its inception. We are no more the literal body of Christ then we are literal branches and Jesus is the literal Vine (see John 15:1-4) The onus of sickness in the body is placed at the feet of the sick person by Price.

“You need to know that Satan can’t put them {sick/disease} on you unless you’re willing to receive them. What Satan does is give you a symptom, then you go to talking. “I guess I’m going to be sick.” When you say that you just “signed for the package.” It’s yours now, “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth… (9)

According to Price, when a person is stricken with any sickness or disease it is because they have accepted the “package” that Satan has delivered by confessing into existence the reality of their symptoms.

I often wonder how Mr. Price explains how it is that his own wife was stricken with cancer. Betty Price has been listening to and confessing the “Word” according to the WOF cult and yet she became sick and even wrote a book about it! (10) Fred’s wife did not receive a divine healing miracle for her pelvic cancer but obtained the best medical care money can afford. Her cancer is in remission, for that we rejoice. However, if what her husband taught was in fact true, then why did his wife Betty “receive the package” {cancer} sent by Satan? Why didn’t she just confess it away from her in Jesus name?

Seriously folks, if what the WOF cult teaches regarding divine healing is true, then those who teach it, hear it, devote their every waking moment to it—ought to be the ones manifesting what has been promised. Yet here we have Betty Price unable to confess away the attack of Satan! Obviously neither could Joyce Meyer when she was treated for breast cancer. Peggy Capps, Charles Capps wife, also could not exert mastery over the beggarly element of liver cancer apart from medical treatment. Mack Timberlake succumbed to disease as did Hagin’s son-in-law Buddy Harrison who also died of cancer despite teaching the WOF doctrine on healing for close to twenty years!

Healing for the WOF devotee is always dependent upon the person’s knowledge (of God’s promises). And /or works (positive confession of these promises). Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Copeland’s wife says the following regarding divine healing:

“You must know that it is God’s will to heal you. Until this fact is settled in your mind and spirit, you cannot approach healing without being double minded and wavering. The Scripture states that the double minded man will receive nothing from the Lord.” (James 1:6-8). (11)

A person has to receive the gnosis that it is God’s will to heal His children every time and all the time they are sick in order to be healed. If you lack this certainty then you cannot be healed. Again, notice that the burden is placed on the sick person. They are responsible to allowing Satan to afflict them in the first place and since this is so (according to Price) they probably lack the knowledge of God’s will to heal them too. In short, these folks are doomed.

“Many try to reap the healing harvest without first planting the seed. ‘Until the person seeking healing is sure from God’s Word that it is God’s will to heal him, he is trying to reap a harvest where there is no seed planted. “ (12)

According to WOF doctrine, we all reap what we sow. If we sow the healing verses into our heart by confessing them, when Satan brings his symptoms of sickness, we will immediately reject them and confess that we are healed by the stripes of Jesus and we will be. It is that simple according to Copeland and John Osteen (and 100,000’s that follow their false doctrines):

In your heart of hearts, picture yourself completely delivered from sickness, suffering and all trouble. YOU ARE!! Now, take God’s promises without fear and boldly confess them day and night. When people ask you how you feel don’t tell them. TELL THEM WHAT GOD SAYD SNOUY YOU VSDR!! TELL THEM ABOUT THE PROMISES OF GOD!! TELL THEM YOU DON’T GO BY FEELINGS BUT BY WHAT GOD SAYS!!! (13)

I wonder how well this worked for Pastor Osteen, while he was lying in his hospital bed dying of heart problems and other conditions, Did confessing God’s “promises” work when his wife, Dodie, got liver cancer?  Reality has a rude way of bumping into people’s fantasies.

If someone attends a Benny Hinn crusade and does not receive their healing what is Benny’s answer “well you know I am not the healer.” (14) If someone manages to show any improvement then naturally Benny puts it goes on television, when nothing happens and the people later die, as has been proven multiple times, then nothing is said about it.

Tracy and I took a friend, Madelyn who had AIDS to a Hinn miracle crusade, she ended up sitting in the overflow area and to her dying day believed that if she could have only gotten closer to Benny she would have been healed! Talk about cruel!

The reality of living in a fallen world, in bodies that the Apostle Paul says is decaying daily (see 2Cor. 4:16) is ignored by WOF’ers. They want to see nothing but victory, overcoming every obstacle in life by the power of your faith is victory. Anything that might cause their followers to question the validity of their stance must be denied, denigrated, despised and rejected.

Those facing death in the WOF cult are not prepared to die, are not comforted by the promises of God regarding heaven, the work Jesus did on their behalf and that they can rest in His finished work. They are not told to trust in Christ Jesus alone, but are kept on the treadmill of works to their dying breath. No WOF pastor is going to come into the hospital and say “Chuck you are going to die, have you been seeing to the affairs of your life?” To confess he is going to die is to make it a fact! Can you see why I consider this cruelty and a perversion of the Christian faith my brothers and sister?  ♦

Copyright © 2004 by Robert Liichow

End Notes

1. This man’s name was Keith Grayton, he later died from a complication due to having AIDS. Fortunately by the time he came to our congregation my wife and I had just begun to attend seminary and we were on our way out of deception and recognized immediately that this was a dangerous individual to follow and his teaching while visiting our former church were instrumental in hastening our exit.

2. Nance, Terry Gods Armor Bearer (Gods Armorbear), 1980.

3. Ibid, God’s Armor Bearer book ll Shippensburg, PA Destiny Image Publications, 1994. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

4. Charisma magazine, August 2004. P. 95

5. I have dealt with some of the tactics used in our book entitled “Defending the Indefensible.’ which is available through our ministry for the cost.

6. Copeland, Kenneth The Force of Righteousness Forth Worth, TX KCP Publication, p. 16 1992. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

7. Price, Frederick Is Healing For All Tulsa, OK Harrison House Publishing. P. 8 1976.

8. Ibid pg. 31

9. Ibid p. 32.

10. Williford, Stanley O. Through the Fire and Through the Water, How Dr. Betty Price Conquered Cancer. Web site, http://faithdome.org/.

11. Copeland, Gloria, God’s Will for Your Healing. Fort Worth, TX. Kenneth Copeland Ministries, p., 3 1972

12. Copeland, Gloria God’s Will For Your Healing. Forth Worth, TX Kenneth Copeland Ministries, p. 8 1972.

13. Osteen, John. There Is A Miracle in Your Mouth. Houston, TX . John Osteen Publications. Pp. 17-18, 1972

14. There are two excellent resources to consider when looking into the world of Mr. Hinn, the first is the book “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn.’ available at http://www.pfo.org or ‘The many faces of Benny Hinn’ video available through the Trinity Foundation.

 

Advertisements




Did You Know? –

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – July 2004 Vol. 8 No. 7 – Did You Know? by Robert Liichow

That you can buy a copy of Jesse Duplantis book “Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind” on the web at Urim & Thummin? So what is the big deal about that?

                                 It’s a MORMON website

http://www.joseph-smith.net/bookstore/urim_thummin.htm 

“Heaven – Close Encounters of the God Kind. The following statement comes from the Mormon website.

Jesus Duplantis was taken to heaven in the flesh with an appointment to meet God the Father. While in heaven, Jesse also met father Abraham, Jesus Christ King David, the apostle Paul, the prophet Jonah, and others, Jesse was permitted to enter the Holy City to see the homes of the prophets and his future home as we.

DMI has covered Mr. Dupantis extensively in past issues (in fact we’re offering a CD this month dealing with his “trip” to heaven, see page 14). However, I find it personally intriguing at a Mormon web site would find his revelations in concert with many of their own beliefs that they would gladly offer his book among other books that deal explicitly with Mormon doctrines. (Here’s the dirty little secret–much of Word of Faith heterodoxy is very similar to many Mormon beliefs). Here are just a few examples:

WOF teaches that heaven is a planet—Kenneth Copeland tells us, “You don’t think God created man in His image and created the earth in some other image, huh? There’s nothing under the whole sun that’s new-This is a copy of home-a copy of the mother planet Where God lives, He made a little one just like it and put us on it. (1) “ Heaven has a north and a south and an east and a west. Consequently, it must be a planet. “ (1)

Mormon doctrine teaches that heaven is a planet too!  God is supposed to have lived on a planet near a mysterious star called Kolob. According to Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Kolob means ‘the first creation.’ It is the name of the planet ‘nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God’…One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurements of this earth.” (2)

The WOF movement…teaches that Adam was a God Doctrine: 

Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Copeland’s wife, stated, “When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He transmitted His very self into him. God imparted the same spiritual substance of which He is made into Adam’s being. (3)

Kenneth Copeland gives his opinion, “…Adam is as much like God as you can get, just the same as Jesus, when He came into the earth. And I want you to know something; Adam in the garden of Eden was God manifested in the flesh.” (4)

The Mormon Church says…and the Adam was a God Doctrine: Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Mormon Church tells us, “When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken–He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” (5)

The WOF…and the Deity of Man: Kenneth Copeland states, “You don’t have a god in you, you are one.” (6) According to Kenneth Hagin, “You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” (7)

The Mormon Church teaches…on the Deity of Man: Apostle Bruce McConkie states, “that exaltation which the saints of all ages have so devoutly sought is godhood itself.” (8)

There are other comparisons between Mormon doctrines and the WOF cult, but they will have to be dealt with at a later time. Stay Tuned!  ♦

Copyright © 2004 by Robert Liichow

End Notes

1. Watchman Expositor ( www.watchman.org.  ) , Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Copeland video, Following the Faith of Abraham)

2. Hank Hanegraaff Christianity in Crisis 1997) p. 379

3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 428

4. Watchman Expositor ( www.watchman.org  ), Word Faith theology and Mormonism (from Gloria Copeland Believrs’s Voice of Victory, June 1986 p. 10

5. Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org ), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Copeland video , following the Faith of Abraham)

6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1 p. 50

7. Watchman Expositor, (www.watchman.org) , Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth video, The force of Love).

8. Watchman Expositor (ww.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Hagin, Word of Faith, December 1980 p. 14)





The Leaven of Lakeland-

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – July 2004 Vol. 8 No. 7 – The Leaven of Lakewood – by Robert Liichow

scanjoelosteen0001I want to begin this article by giving credit where credit is due. When it comes to the Lakewood charismatic mega-church there are aspects of this ministry which must be cited as worthy. To begin with the church was originally started by John Osteen, who was a Southern Baptist pastor but after receiving the “baptism” in/with the Holy Spirit he became enamored with the charismatic renewal movement in its early stage and eventually became associated with the Word of Faith (WOF) cult. The following commentary was taken from the official web site of Lakeland Church.

The late John Osteen served the Lord Jesus Christ as pastor, evangelist, author, and teacher for sixty years. Ordained as a Southern Baptist he received the baptism in the Holy Ghost in 1958, an experience which revolutionized his ministry into a worldwide outreach…John Osteen began Lakewood Church in a dusty, abandoned feed store on Mother’s Day 1959…John Osteen was driven by an amazing love for people of all ages, races, nationalities and walks of life. (1)

One thing is certain in a time of racial division John Osteen opened wide the doors of his church to all people, and all shades and classes of people came. John, even though he had rejected his Baptist theology (he did actually earn a Masters degree from Northern Baptist Seminary) he never lost sight of the need for foreign missions and his congregation supported and still supports a great deal of foreign mission work. At the time of his death Lakewood Church has risen to 8,000 members.

However, I am under no illusion regarding the WOF “leaven” which John propagated and is unfortunately being further magnified through his son Joel Osteen who took over as Pastor when his father died in 1999. John was a big crusader for the error of positive confession.  This is a metaphysical belief that we can either create or change our reality by the power of our words, for example he stated the following:

When they say like they did to Smith Wigglesworth, “How are you feeling today?” He said “Listen, I don’t ask my body how it’s feeling; I tell it how to feel” And your words should not be to describe the situation; your words should be given to change the situation. And so, read it mediate upon it, and speak it (2)

I am the sum total of what I have been confessing through the years. My children are the best children that ever lived on the face of the earth. They are blessed of God. They are the sum total of what Dodie and I have confessed and loved them into being  (3)

Osteen is on record as fully endorsing the WOF errant concepts surrounding financial prosperity:  It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life. (4)

In the above sermon we can see the Health & Wealth “gospel” summed up three sentences. So despite the good things that John Osteen did as a Pastor he got ensnared by the subtlety of false teaching and ended up misleading millions  before his death. Jesus in speaking to His disciples warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees in the following discussion:

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  Mt. 16:6,11-12

Even though it seems to us that His disciples were a little slow on the “uptake” at times Jesus makes His point crystal clear to them — He was warning them to beware (6) to be on guard against the danger of their doctrinal errors, which Jesus likens to leaven in bread. Jesus knew that if left unchecked , like leaven in bread, their doctrinal error would spread.  The leaven of false doctrines which he instilled in his son are now expanding and misleading more people than John Osteen could have ever imagined.

The Concerns: John Osteen Master of Marketeering

Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor. Charismatic pulpits are filled with people who feel “called” to the pastorate and that is enough for them and those who follow them. They attempt to build congregations on the “strength of their calling. Some charismatic leaders may go on to an unaccredited “Bible School” for a year or two, such as Rhema Bible Training Center started by the late Kenny Hagin. None of the large group of ministers  that we were ever acquainted over the years attended any legitimate seminary.

Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt “called” to be a surgeon as a child, but never went on to medical school? Or would you allow someone to build your house who firmly believed God had called him to be an architect yet had never gone on to college to study architectural design? Of course not, it would be the height of foolishness!

Yet millions of professing Christians are more then willing to follow a man (or woman) who says “God” has called them and has supernaturally equipped them to be ministers. These especially anointed men and woman have no need to study Church History, hermeneutics, systematic theology and struggle through Greek and Hebrew as other ministers do. They hear directly from God (this is especially true for the sign-gift  (7)  pastors, most seeker-sensitive churches are lead by seminary educated individuals).

So my first main concern is that we have a man in the pulpit of the largest congregation in America, being beamed around the world that has no biblical education or training for the vocation he says he has! To me we have a clear case of the blind leading the blind (read Luke 6:39) with the end result being mases of people falling into the ditch of spiritual ignorance, abuse and/or extremism.

Joel Osteen made the following statement which ought to be enough to drive 1,000’s of people away from his church:

“Osteen’s upbeat style is deliberate and authentic. ’Make church relevant,” he says, ’Give them something to be able to take away. I find today people are not looking for theology. There’s a place for it, [But] in your every day life you need to know how to live.” (8)

That statement is loaded with seeker-sensitive “code”. My wife and I left a North American Baptist church of over 1,000 members which had as its acronym “GPARS” which stood for (1) Grace; (2) People; (3) Authenticity; (4) Relevance and (5) small groups.

Of course Osteen’s “style” is upbeat, would you expect negativity from a positive confession devotee? No! Deliberate, absolutely, he really believes much of the WOF nonsense his father taught him all his life, not to mention whatever offbeat spirituality he may have gleaned from his two years at Oral Roberts University. Authentic?  Without a doubt!  What you see is what you get. Joel Osteen is a man without any biblical education but an admitted talent for marketing.

To be a success in marketing you have to know where people itch and scratch it. Or, you have to create a desire in them by creating a hunger for something they currently do not have nor formerly knew they needed. All commercials can be condensed down to one of these two truths.

So to become a mega-church a pastor has to make church relevant. He has to give the people what they want, something that soothes that spiritual itch. In order to be a “success” ( i.e. large masses of people and money) pastors must preach unchallenging messages that uplift rather than convict. He must pander to the lowest common denominator and make sure that whatever is taught does not offend anyone at anytime. What we are seeing is really nothing new, it is simply a  fulfillment of Paul’s warning to Timothy in 1 Tim 4:3-4,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim 4:3-4

This is exactly where multitudes of people are spiritually today. The above text also helps explain the phenomena of people like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and now, Joel Osteen.

Osteen goes on to say that “I find today that people are not looking for theology.” Well that is obvious because if they were they would not find any sound theology at Lakewood! Although he does not reveal to the readers where he found this astonishing fact out, it appears the folks he has talked to have no interest in theology.

Lest you think me a bit harsh let me remind you that theology simply means: “the knowledge of God.” In essence Osteen has said that people are really not interested in learning about God. Somehow (undoubtedly due to his lack of biblical education) he has made a distinction between knowing the God of the bible via sound biblical theology and “knowing how to live.”

Brothers and sisters, my wife and I can testify to you that the more accurately you understand God within the biblical context the better life you will live before Him. Tracy and I have a daughter, she does not like to eat certain vegetables, but we MAKE her eat them from time to time. Why? As her parents, even though somewhat distasteful to her we know that eating them will be beneficial.

The same is true for every man who mounts a pulpit! God does not tell us to feed the sheep what they want to eat. Jesus told Peter “feed My sheep,” (see John 21:16). Jesus said “feed” the sheep not “entertain” them! We are to give them the Word of God in its totality. Any pastor can fall into the trap of becoming a people pleaser. This is why Paul, through the Holy Ghost warned young Timothy in the verse just above the one I cited:

“I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2 Tim. 4:2

Timothy is WARNED to be steadfast in his proclamation of the Gospel to be ready and in his preaching to (1) REPROVE; (2) REBUKE; (3) EXHORT the people according to the Scriptures. How? We are to preach with all longsuffering (because such preaching is unpleasant to people’s carnal nature) and with doctrine. GASP! Doctrine? I can hear the seeker-sensitive pundits saying “oh come now, Rev. Liichow, surely you know preaching doctrinal messages is passé ?”  Osteen would do well to heed the word of the Lord from a genuine prophet who stated:

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock. Ezek. 34:2-3

There are many biblical themes which are very “unpopular” and even politically “incorrect” yet the faithful pastor/teacher will expound on these topics as well so that the flock undr his care is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk in the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.

What is Joel’s educational background and experience? Since we know his training is not theological what is it? He did attend Oral Roberts University for two years, but his area of study had to do with television production and marketing.

“Meanwhile, son Joel, one of six children, was learning the business of television…’Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be involved in TV production, ‘ he says. “That was just my passion,’ In 1981 he came home from Oral Roberts University (ORU) to start the Lakeword TV ministry. (9)

For seventeen (17) years Joel was behind the scenes handling all the television and marketing of his father’s ministry. The next statement from the Charisma article is very revealing:

‘The younger Osteen’s television-marketing talents and his dad’s preaching skills resulted eventually in the church churches being aired on stations nationwide and in more then 100 countries. (10)

Joel Osteen had the ability to get his father’s heavily WOF influenced message out all over America and into 100 foreign markets. Due to this dynamic-duo of folksy preaching/teaching and highly visible presence on television Lakewood Church grew to close to 8,000 members at the time of John Osteen’s death in 1999.

With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to preach for him that Sunday. Initially Joel balked at the idea and said “no,” He then relented and here are Joel’s own words concerning his preaching that day:

“I just got up there and told stories. I was so glad when it was over, I said, ‘I’ll never do this again in my life.’  (11)

That was the beginning of his public ministry; he just got up and told “stories,” Joel has been telling stories that have been tickling the ears of the multitudes ever since. Here is how the article describes Joel’s style of preaching:

“The appealing style of Osteen’s personality in the pulpit is unmistakable. It is part of the reason for the Lakewood’s current level of success. (12) Everyone agrees Osteen’s preaching is a key ingredient. Descriptions of his style include ‘simple,’ ‘down-to-earth,’ ‘practical’ ‘relatable,’ ‘easy,’ ‘folksy,’ ‘humble,’. (13)

It’s 10 a.m. when he began his sermon. The theme is practical as he gives example after example of the importance of following God’s timing rather then one’s own. He keeps the tone cheerful, optimistic, ‘God doesn’t want anybody walking out of here today heavy-hearted and downcast,” Osteen says. (14)

Joel Osteen is charismatic in his personality. He is not a bad looking man, his delivery is as non-threatening as the positive messages he delivers. Perhaps, I am reading in to much yet when I read “practical” it makes me think that he believes teaching theology is somehow “impractical.” The example after example simply means he tells a lot of stories and anecdotes that somehow relate to the message in which he may cite one or two proof texts to make his point.

It also concerns me what a pastor can make the statement that God does not want anybody walking out of here “heavy-hearted”. My Bible says “godly sorrow worketh repentance…” (see 2 Cor. 7:10).  At times God does want us to walk out of a service “heavy-hearted” if we have been sinning against His will. We should allow the Word (when properly expounded) and the Spirit (when genuinely present) to break us, to convict us of sinful attitudes and practices.

However, if all you hear is “upbeat,” “cheerful,” and “optimistic” messages there is little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work conviction in the hearts of the hearers. This folksy down home non-confrontational type of message also goes a long way in explaining the huge crowds that gather to be entertained.

Entertained? Oh, yes, it is not only Joel’s preaching style but the music of Lakewood is an important ingredient in drawing large hoards of people. Once Joel took command of Lakewood’s already large congregation (between 6,000 to 8,000 members) he began to expand the musical talent as well.

Four years ago, when Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff—became Lakewood’s minister of music, the church had only one Sunday morning service….Soon after Cruse-Ratcliff arrived Lakwood expanded when two Sunday morning services were added…’The growth was extremely rapid,’ says Cruse-Ratcliff, who still serves on the 200-member Lakewood Staff. (15)

“Star power” brings people to churches as well, especially musical stars and Joel is not ignorant of this fact. As minister of music Ms. Ratcliff knows people in the contemporary music scene and she no doubt help add to the musical strength of this mega-church by helping bring in some more musical talent:

Helping to spice up the mix are two of the most prominent names in worship music. Maros Witt, who fills stadiums in Latin America for worship concerts was tapped in 2002 to pastor Lakewood’s 3,000 member Hispanic congregation. Also adding diversity to the Lakewood staff is Israel Houghton, whose soulful worship anthems are sung around the world. ( 16)

The music at Lakewood is contemporary. They have musical stars that appeal to Hispanic (Witt), African-American (Houghton) and Caucasian members (Ratcliff). The musical team writes many of their own songs and nothing in the article is ever mentioned about hymns.

This is not surprising when you consider that (to our knowledge) no seeker-sensitive or WOF congregation use hymnals at all, apart from the occasional singing of Amazing Grace. The charismatic movement’s brand of music has infiltrated almost all evangelical congregations that have forsaken the use of the historic hymns. At our former seeker-sensitive Baptist church we sang songs that originated from the Toronto “revival” and from the Vineyard movement, two examples of some of the wildest expressions within the renewal movement.

Musically speaking there is a method “to their madness” at Lakewood and other mega-churches. They have a strong emphasis to cut all ties with traditional Christianity. The classic, highly theological hymns and hymnals virtually scream out the dreaded word “TRADITIONAL.”

                    Out With the Old, In With the New

Lakewood an all seeker congregations do not want to be associated with any denominational trappings or any forms of liturgical worship. Many of these churches have even removed crosses from behind their pulpits lest they appear to be too churchy  to the seeker.

In all our time spent among both Pentecostal believers and seeker-sensitive groups we never recited the Lord’s prayer as part of our worship. We never recited any of the historic creeds of the orthodox Church. I doubt there are three people who attend Lakewood who could recite the Apostles or Nicene Creeds, probably few know the Lord’s Prayer. Catechism classes? You’ve got to be kidding! In it’s place some groups may offer a new member’s class, but these classes are usually just general introductions to what the church has to offer the “seeker.” Osteen being a sign-gift believer offers classes which promote the concept of a second baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, but this aspect seems to be soft-peddled as well. 

                  What Is the Key to Osteen’s Success?

Osteen I believe is probably the first of many WOF devotee’s who has melded the successful marketing techniques of the seeker-sensitive mega-churches with their positive confession health & wealth message. The blend becomes a potent hybrid that appeals to both sign-gift believers (sort of “charismatic lite”) and baby-boomer seekers.

The message that God wants to bless His children with complete physical health, to give them great financial wealth and to demand little of them regarding their spiritual life is a highly appealing message. When you combine this with well know Gospel singers, highly orchestrated praise and worship teams in a decidedly non-church atmosphere it will appeal to even a wider audience.

We cannot forget to mix in the vast television footprint that Lakewood Church promotes, along with its web site, daddy John Osteen’s books are still in almost all Christian bookstores so it is not difficult to understand how it can gather 30,000 people in Lakewood’s rented 16,000 seat arena, formerly the home of the Houston Rockets.

What Saddens me the most is that one hears little, if any, Law & Gospel proclaimed by Joel at Lakewood Church. To quote something I remember hearing “dad” Hagin say: “how do you poison a dog? You put the poison in with the good meat,” I do not want to press the analogy too far but the reality is that 30,000 people are not being biblically fed a balanced spiritual diet that will promote true growth in their lives. What you do hear is a synthesis of WOF concepts wrapped up in a seeker-friendly environment by a young man with a winsome smile.

Lastly, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a certain synergy builds with any church when it beings to reach such a size. People, who have no solid doctrinal foundation, will want to attend the place here “something” is happening (throw in a coffee bar, ice rink and gym does not hurt either). In America, bigger is better. After all, many posit, if Joel was not being used of the Lord then why would God allow all these people to come to Lakewood church?

Could it be a sign of God’s judgment on His people who have forsaken His ways? Often we think of God’s judgment as some divine catastrophe, yet often, and just as catastrophic, is when He simply allows people to have their own way. I believe the words of Jeremiah are applicable to many in the Church today;

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jer. 2:12-13

As much as Joel no doubt believes the growth they’ve experienced is due to the blessing of God it really boils down to three simple things, which have nothing to do with God at all:

1. His father’s legacy and an already existing mega-church;

2. Joel’s slick marketing abilities

3. A biblically errant, but hugely popular message which appeals to the masses seeking to have their ears tickled and experience a “good time” in church.

Please pray for Joel Osteen, like it or not, he currently has a tremendous impact on many people. Pray the Lord opens his eyes to biblical truth and may he take as bold a stand to expose error.  ♦

coperight © 2004 by Robert Liichow

End Notes

1. http://www.lakewood.cc/john_tribute.htm

2. Osteen, John Sermon entitled Developing Miracle Working Faith, FA-006. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from http://www.myfortress.org/JohnOsteen.html on 06-10-04

4. Osteen, John. Sermon, The Holy Spirit Part 1 HS-001

5. :to be in a continuous state of readiness to learn of any future danger, need, or error, and to respond appropriately -’to pay attention to, to keep on the lookout for, to be alert for, to be on one’s guard against.’ Taken from the Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon, Silver Mountain Software, ver 5.0

6. I purposefully use the term sign-gift in place of charismatic because all Christians are charismatic believers in that each one of us have been gifted with some gifts from the Holy Spirit (read 1 Cor. 12:7).

 7. Charisma, June 2004, pp. 44-45. Bold type added for emphasis.

8. Ibid., June 2004, p. 44

9. Ibid, p. 44.

10. Ibid p. 44. Underlining added for emphasis

11. Ibid p. 46.

12. Ibid. p. 45

13. Ibid, p. 49 Italics and underlining added for emphasis.

14. Ibid p. 44

15. Ibid. p. 46

16. It is interesting as hard as they have tried to distance themselves from established “traditional” forms of Christian worship they have created their own liturgies of a sort. They have banners which are marched around, they have praise dancers (we called them “Glory Dancers”). They have alter calls, and other aspects which have become standard practices and thus traditions.

 

 





The Development of a Heresy Hunter –

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter-June 2004 Vol.8 No6 – The Development of a Heresy-Hunter Or Happy 48th Birthday Bob!

scanbobdaughter0001When I met my husband, he was a firebrand within our small University of Michigan, Word of Faith church called “Greater Faith Christian Center.” Back then I guess I would have said it was the anointing on him that drew me, but now many years later I know it was the Lord. We received both encouragement and discouragement regarding our future together as a ministry team and as husband and wife. Even in a liberal town like Ann Arbor, Michigan some people did not cotton to the idea of an interracial couple, yet many within our church did. We prayed and Bob called me his pearl of great price and he could have cared less what people, society, family, or whatever thought about us. All he knew was that we loved one another. He even made a literal blood covenant, complete with promises with me one evening. This boy was serious.

I guess it was then that I noticed a tenacity and passion that other men I knew did not possess. He really did not care what other people thought, he was unafraid to take a stand against the prevailing cultural winds no matter how hard they beat against him, and later, us as a young married couple. When he knew it was God’s will for us to get married then there were no forces on earth, no principalities or powers that could deter him.

We’ve been married for 21 years this coming July and I have stood by his side for almost half his life. I have seen him grow in Christ, been with him through the highest highs of charismatic ecstasy and the lowest depths of depression as the crushing weight of God’s Word was truly revealed to him as well as myself in seminary.

Through God’s mercy we were both enabled to attend Michigan Theological Seminary  ( http://www.mts.edu ) and we were mentored by Dr. H. Wayne House, who, was raised a member of the Pentecostal Church of God of Prophecy. Dr. House became a close friend of ours. Wayne was the instrument the Lord used to foment within Bob the desire to “Teach Truth & Expose Error.”  Since Bob and I had been part of five distinct “moves” within the charismatic renewal movement we believed we were well suited to speak out about the myriad of problems plaguing the renewal movement. Bob and I have been there and literally done that  (I’ve see my husband lay hands on the dead in caskets and command them to rise!)

It was during our time in seminary that the Lord led Bob to start this Apologetics/Polemics/Counter-cult ministry. He knew two things very intimately: First, he knew too many people who were wounded, wandering, sheep who had left the Church with no shepherd to go after them. Secondly, he knew a great deal about the inner-workings of some of the leaders within the renewal movement. Once God shown the light of His Word to Bob, he became like a bobcat who would rather die then give up its goal. I saw the fire of God in his eyes burn brighter then ever before as layer after layer of deception was stripped away. Like a man who has cataracts on his eyes, Bob’s vision became clearer and stronger as more sound doctrine was poured into him.

Now for the last seven years by the grace of God Bob has devoted himself full-time to reaching out to rescue people who are unknowingly wandering in darkness and those who God has recently opened their eyes to His truth.

Has it been easy? In no way!  He has sacrificed and taught me and now our daughter the meaning of dying to self and what is eternally important. He has shown us how to wear this world’s possessions as a very loose garment. Has it been fruitful? In every way!  Fruitful financially? Not a bit, Bob could have and still could do much “better” financially in other venues, yet this ministry is what he is called and equipped for. The fruit has been the hundred’s of lives God has changed through his ministry.

My dear brothers and sisters, will you please remember my husband in your prayers? Our Lord has given my husband a big vision that can bless literally thousands of people around the world, but God does not “rain down” $20.00 bills from heaven. He uses ordinary people, like you and me. Sure I could pull the ole birthday blessing promise; you all know it, “sow” $4.80, $48, $480, or $4,800 to bless the man-of-God this month. I could cut up his sweaty t-sirt and offer it as a prayer cloth to heal your sick or save your lost family members, but you and I know as Rocky used to tell Bullwinkle “that trick never works”, and besides I really do fear God too much to make such a foolish statement. I do ask that you sincerely pray and help DMI this month and throughout the summer. This month I ask you to please not neglect the enclosed scanbobseeker0001envelope, but send something in if all our readers simpscan0001ly send in $5.00 per month faithfully our ministry needs would be met. Let me tell you that Bob is very thankful for all of you who help keep DMI running. During the summer donations generally get fairly sparse but we praise God that this is not the case with our supporters. Our prayer is that God will raise up more people, churches, and businesses to work with us.  

 

copyright © 2004 by Robert Liichow




More Ministry Fruit –

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsleter – June 2004  Vol. 8 No.6 – More Ministry Fruit- by Bob Liichow

I am always humbled when I receive reports like these because I know that any good fruit that is produced by our portion of His ministry is due solely to our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15:5) and I am very careful to give Him all the glory. Let me also say how deeply grateful we are for each and everyone who supports our mission with their prayers and finances. The only reason these people’s lives were able to be impacted by DMI was because God touched the hearts of some of our readers to support us financially. We have a big vision, which frankly, is only limited by our financial capacity to carry it out. Please read the following testimonies and rejoice if you are currently supporting DMI. If you are not, consider becoming a partner with us and help us reach more people with God’s truth.

Good morning Rev. Liichow, 

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I assume that you are a very busy (but not overburdened) man of God. I feel free to talk to you because I don’t feel vulnerable and because you’ve ’been there’. It good to know that other brothers and sisters have made it thru spiritually abusive situations.  I guess I sort of wonder-quite bluntly- if the leader was really saved? I’ve read Beth Moore’s book ’When Godly people do ungodly things’ but it still makes me wonder how someone could repeat the ’sinning’ over and over and over? The Word was preached – but the rat poison was slowly mixed in. Thank you again for your time and prayers. May God bless you and your family. 

Alvin B.

Frankly, our ministry is one of the few that makes itself so accessible to those in need. As I stated in an earlier newsletter, I make myself available at all times to speak with, counsel and pray with people who have questions about ministries, doctrines, practices, or whatever their prayer requests are. I was glad to speak with you my brother!

Hi Mr. Liichow,    Your e-mail contained two pleasant surprises. The first is that it came so quickly. The second is that it came from you personally. I feel honored! I would not have even checked the mail this evening under normal circumstances.    In His service, Eugene Fleming

Even though DMI receives over 300 e-mail messages per week, I do answer them personally (like I have a secretary to handle this) and teat each inquiry as seriously as a face-to-face talk.

Brother Bob:

We just received your newsletter concerning the info on “Emma” Great!!  I hope you can “wake up” some people before they are totally sucked in by this nonsense. We attend a good size United Methodist Church and our pastor is involved with some of these people through The World Prayer Center, Peter Wagner, Ted Haggard, Tommy Tenney, Terry Teikle and others. When I try to reason with anyone in our circle of friends I am treated like a heretic for questioning the Pastor. “There goes Jim again” is about all the attention I can gender…I am pretty slow, but it looks like I am in the wrong church. Anyway, thanks for putting us on your mailing list.

Through His Blood, Jim & Donna Q. , Orlando, FL.

No problem my brother. We have never refused to send anyone our newsletter. If people cannot afford the $20.00 per year subscription fee, they still receive it. We are blessed to know people are reading it and sharing it with others. Always glad to add another “heresy-hunter” to the growing army of the concerned regarding the direction of our Lord’s Church.

Dear Pastor Liichow,   You say you are not bitter, but I am. I believe the Lord led me out of the WOF movement 12 years ago and eventually the charismatic movement although I still do not completely reject that even though I do not practice it anymore. I do reject the WOF and find myself too often in the presence of someone or another who is following Joyce Meyer or John Hagee or one of the professional WOF preachers. I have tried to pass on information to these friends, some from your website and some from other websites. I don’t think they read it though because in following conversations they don’t seem to remember what was in the article or what I have said. I am to the point of considering telling them that they are going down a road that I already traveled and now completely reject so I really cannot help them if they do not want to listen. I simply cannot go back down that road. I admit to anger and impatience when it comes to any of the WF people, teachings and followers. My son and his wife and children are really big, into Copeland and Hagin. I wouldn’t even say a word to them because I fear that it could result in a big blowup after which a big wall would go up. I might possibly not be allowed to see my grandchildren. Do you have any suggestions for me. Francessca

I did offer counsel to Francessca, and tried to encourage her not to allow a root of bitterness to take hold of her heart. Often our detractors accuse us of being “bitter” because we failed to receive what we confessed or sat under some poor leaders. No, we are not bitter.  Actually, I tend more towards battling discouragement versus bitterness. It is difficult to continually swim upstream and see millions blithely floating downstream being mislead and deceived by various false Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers, ignoring our warnings. I get discouraged when I see the wicked prospering financially and our ministry and others like ours can barely pay the bills.

copyright © 2004 by Robert Liichow




You Are Now A “god”-

31 05 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – June 2004 Vol.8 No.6 – by Bob Liichow

As a former Word of Faith (WOF) devotee (later I was a WOF Pastor and Teacher) we were taught a wide variety of doctrinal errors. One of the most egregious of these errors concerned the deification of man and the demotion of God.  Lest any of you reading this article think that this is no longer taught by the WOF cult,  (1) let me assure you that it certainly is. If anything this damnable heresy is being presented more prolifically today then ever before because there are more teachers promoting it on a biblical scale. Here is a very condensed version of some basic WOF beliefs.

According to the WOF earth: is an exact duplicate of heaven. God looked at the planet, where He lives and decided to make another planet just like His called earth. (2) After creating earth God picked up some of the dirt, looked at Jesus and created Adam and made him the god of this planet. Just as big God rules heaven, adam, little god (or little “g” as Creflo Dollar refers to the believer) was to rule over the earth. These very popular and influential heretics go as far as to boldly proclaim that Adam was equal with God, in no way subordinate to Him. In fact, Adam was an exact duplicate of the image of God.

God after making His little “g” gave the planet over to Adam to rule. However, Adam made a BIG mistake when he took Eve’s advice and by his act of disobedience he lost his godhood and suddenly Satan became the god of this world. Adam who once possessed the very nature of big “G” (according to WOF mythology) has now lost it and had received the nature of Satan. Mr. Copeland elucidates this revelation in his teaching “Following the Faith of Abraham” by saying “When Adam originally sinned he gave his god nature to Satan. God could not intervene since He had made Adam the god of the earth. God was left on the outside looking in.”  (3)

Eventually God is able to find someone to agree with Him (named Abraham) and allow Him some access back into the planet earth. Time passes and God begins to “speak” through the prophets, priests and kings Jesus into existence. God could not just send His Son into the earth He first needed people to speak faith-filled words that God could later use to produce the Advent of His Son.

Jesus fially arrives and lays aside all His deity and operates as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit throughout His ministry.  Keith Butler, a “son” in the Gospel of Kenneth Hagin Sr. says–”You see, Jesus didn’t operate in the earth as God. He operated in the earth as a man anointed by the Holy Ghost.” (4)

This misconception concerning the deity of Christ is crucial to WOF mythology. According to their beliefs, and it tracks logically if you buy totally into their system, that if Jesus operated as a mere man, anointed by the Holy Spirit…then we as mere men, anointed with the same Spirit can and should the same exact works and even greater ones, then Jesus did! Butler (as do they all) goes on to make this point: So guess what, you are anointed by the same Holy Ghost. Also, Jesus spoke the Word of God. And guess what, He gave you God’s Word to speak just as He spoke. It’s the anointing that removes burdens and destroys yokes. All sicknesses and diseases are yokes and burdens.”   (5)

Without going into the details, regarding their blasphemous doctrine concerning the atonement, which we’ve previously covered, let me just say that as a man, Jesus defeated Satan in hell; was born-again in hell, rose again and now if we decide to accept Jesus, God’s patterned Son, then we too can, like Jesus did, re-claim our godhood and become little “g’s” as the first Adam originally was.

What WOF teaches is that we are now gods and we are to operate in this earthly realm like God does in heaven. We are to do greater works than Jesus, miracles are to be normative, all manner of sickness and disease must flee from us.  We like big “G” are to create and change our reality by the faith-filled words of our mouth. In short, we are to be healthy, very wealthy and highly anointed beings manifesting the power of God over all of life’s situations.

Sound farfetched? Surely I must be making this up! No one in their right mind would believe such nonsense. Right? On the contrary, sadly, millions of professing Christians believe exactly this and are trying hard through operating various spiritual laws, principles and keys to become the little “g’s” they have been told they really are. All they need to do is listen to the WOF gurus, follow their revelations and operate the spiritual principles they are given and one day they too will have a spiritual revelation (versus a measly rational knowledge) and awaken to a place of spiritual ascendancy into godhood. The following are statements made confirming what I have just shared with you.

Kenneth Hagin (deceased) says of man in relation to God: “Man…was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority… God has made us as much like Himself as possible…He made us the same class of being that He is himself…Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God…The believer is called Christ…That’s who we are; we’re Christ !  (6)

Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth. (7)

It is, in reality, God imparting His very nature, substance, and being to one human spirit…Zoe, then, means eternal life, or God‘s life. This new kind of life is God’s nature….Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation…Jesus was first divine, and then He was human. So He was in the flesh a divine-human being. I was first human, and so were you, but I was born of God, and so I became a human-divine being.    (8)

Kenneth Copeland  goes even further and elaborates in the following: “God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself…He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even. (9) You don’t have a god in you, you are one.  (10)

“God is “A being that is very uncanny the way He’s very much like you and me. A being that stands somewhere around 6’2, 6’3, that weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred pounds, little better, a [and] has a [hand] span of nine inches across. (11)

Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland’s “son” in the Gospel says: “When God made Adam all He did was make an exact imprint of Himself. He duplicated Himself. He was the image and from His image, came Himself…You are an exact duplicate of the image of God and God is a speaking spirit…God took a reflection of Himself and put it in a physical body formed out of the dust and gave him authority of all physical things on the planet. So that like He was God in heaven, now He’s made Adam god of the earth… God wanted a god on the earth like He was God in heaven. And God said, I tell you what I’m going to do this time. I’m going to have to reproduce Myself. Like I’m God up here in heaven. I’m going to make Me a god and put myself in the physical body so that he can guard the earth and keep out all intruders in the earth. (speaking of Adam) he was all God. He was just like God.  (12)

Jerry Savelle, a clone of Copeland and a regular speaker at his conventions. “He is measured out heaven with a nine-inch span…The distance between my thumb and my finger is not quite nine inches. So, I know He’s bigger than me, thank God. Amen? But He’s not some great, big old thing that couldn’t come through the door there and, you know, when He sat down, would fill every seat in the house. I don’t serve the Glob   (13)

Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network is infamous for making the following statement very dogmatically:

“Do you know what else that has settled then tonight? This hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the devil to try and bring dissension within the Body of Christ. That we are gods. I am a little god. I have his name. I’m one with him. I’m in covenant relationship . I am a little god. (14)   A few years later Crouch after receiving many letters and calls responded this way to those who dared question the most powerful “Christian” television mogul concerning his doctrine:

“I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there. Don’t even call in if you want to argue doctrine. If you want to straighten somebody out over here. If you want to criticize Ken Copeland for his preaching on faith or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life. I don’t want to even talk to you or hear you. I don’t want to see your ugly faceGet out of my face in Jesus’ name. (15)  Crouch’s response truly represents how much of the love of God has been shed abroad in his heart doesn’t it? He goes further and threatens his detractors with death: God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to You. God, It is Your work, it is Your idea, it is Your property, it is Your airwaves, it is Your world, and we proclaim death to anything that would stand in the way of God’s great voice of proclamation to the whole world. In the Name of Jesus, and all the people said Amen!  (16)

Benny Hinn  reveals the following ludicrous insight during a TBN program regarding salvation and what occurs when a person is born-again into the family of God. (Before I quote Hinn, let me go on the record (again) and state that Mr. Hinn fits almost all of the classic psychological profiles of a psychopath. )

“When you say ‘I am saved’ what are you saying? You are saying I am a Christian. What does that word mean? Means that I am anointed. Do you know what anointed means? It means Christ. When you say I am a Christian, you are saying…I am a little messiah walking on the earth in other words. That’s a shocking revelation…His spirit and our spirit man are one. United. There is no separation, it is impossible. The new creation is created after God in righteousness and true holiness. The new man is after God, like God, God-like, complete in Christ Jesus, the new creation is just like God. May I say it like this, you ar a little god on earth running around.   (17)

 You say, ’Benny, am I a little God? You’re a son of God, aren’t you?…What else are you? Quit your nonsense!…if you say, ’Iam’, you’re saying you’re part of Him, right? Is he God? Are you His offspring? You can’t be human! You can’t!  (18)  Like Crouch, Hinn is kind and gentle towards those who question his doctrine and ministry. I place a curse on every man and woman that will stretch his hand against this anointing. I curse that man who dares to speak a word against this ministry.   (19)

Morris Cerullo  gives us further clarity into who we “really” are: “Did you know that from the beginning of time the whole purpose of God was to reproduce Himself? …And when we stand up here, brother, you’re not looking at Morris Cerullo; you’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus. (20)

Earl Paulk,  one of leading proponents of “dominion theology” and is considered by many to be a restored “Apostle” in the Church made this astounding statement: “Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods: we have trouble comprehending this truth. Until we comprehend that we are little gods, we cannot manifest the kingdom of God. (21)

This is just a brief sampling of what all of the WOF leaders believe and teach  regarding being little gods. According to Paulk, a “Kingdom Now” (22) proponent, until God’s people comprehend (receive this gnosis) that we are in reality gods; we cannot manifest the kingdom of God! I guess Jesus, as Head of the church has just been spinning His “wheels” so to speak for the last 2,000 years, waiting for us to wake up to our godhood.

Let me briefly refute their blasphemous nonsense. First, Adam never possessed the nature of God per se, he was created in the likeness and image of God, and nothing is said of him possessing the very nature of God. The Bible does not teach  that Adam inherited or was possessed by Satan’s nature when he sinned. Nowhere  does the Bible say that when a person is drawn to faith in Christ that he or she becomes a “human divine being” as the departed ‘dad’ Hagin taught. None  of the writers of the New Testament ever describe themselves or the church as being “little gods.” Nor do we read that hordes of believers, apart from the Apostles and those they specifically delegated, went about working miracles, healing masses of sick folk, casting out demons left and right, taking dominion over the principalities and powers thus releasing revival in their cities.

One would have to believe if what the WOF cult and the Dominion extremists teach is really nothing more than restored truth that the Church lost over the centuries. Then why isn’t it recorded by the writing Apostles or in the Book of Acts? Why don’t we see even glimpses of their doctrine(s) in the writings of any of the Early Church Fathers, some of whom were direct disciples of the original Apostles!

Even more to the point, if all of the above citations are in fact biblical truth, then why haven’t those teaching such a great revelation attained to their status as little gods? I challenge any of them to create something, anything all out of nothing by the “faith-filled” words of their mouth. If they possess the same anointing as Jesus then why is the cancer rate so high among their leadership? (23) If Benny Hinn likes to have the masses chant in his miracle crusades “we are anointed, we are anointed” how does he explain his abysmal failure rate when it comes to providing any proof of even one creative miracle? I can prove that more people have died at his crusades then he can prove have been genuinely healed. If those who proclaim that we are little carbon copies of Jesus Christ have not achieved this stature what chance do their followers have?

If the redeemed man has gotten back the dominion the First Adam lost, as Charles Capps teaches, then why is crime rampant? ?Why is homosexuality becoming so blatant? Why is immorality on the rise? If God has restored prophets back to the Church, Copeland, Hagin, Kim Clement, Paul Cain, Mike Bickle and many others are accepted as genuine prophets of God, why do their prophetic words fall to the ground with unfailing regularity?

The answers to those questions are quite simple what these men and women are teaching is false doctrine plain and simple. It appeals to sinful flesh and is nothing more than an expanded echo of the original lie told to our forebears Adam and Eve “ye shall be as gods”  (Gen 3:5)  Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself of His divine attributes. If the WOF views is correct then at some point the second Person of the godhead, ceased to be God, especially during His sacrificial death on the cross. If this were true, then what happened to the Trinity? God cannot cease to be God.

Almost all of the WOF cult (and all other bible-based cults) errors, stem from a lack of sound hermeneutics at best or darker, more wicked purposeful deception at worst. Regarding Jesus specifically, the error lies in their misunderstanding of the kenosis, or “emptying” of Christ in His earthly ministry. Here is a simple explanation of the Kenosis of Christ:

Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary (Matt 1:23; Gal 4:4) in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction (Isa 7:14). From a more theological point of view, John says that the eternal and divine Word became flesh and that God thus “tabernacled” among us (John 1:1, 14; Exodus 40:34-35). The doctrine of the incarnation means that the second person of Trinity took on human flesh. Jesus Christ is both undiminished deity united with perfect humanity forever and without confusion of attributes. One person, tow natures (divine/human).

God became a man in order to redeem his creation and rule over it. Thus, he came to fulfill the Davidic covenant as the promised King (Luke 1:31-33). In his role as Lord and Kin he reveals God to men (John 1:18) saves sinners (Gal 1:4) destroys the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) judges men (Acts 17:31) and brings all things in creation back in submission to God (1Cor 15:20-28; Ephesians 1:10-11) (24)

WOF does not accept the orthodox view at all. They teach that Jesus Christ divested himself entirely of any divine attributes, i.e. ceased to be divine and operated only as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. This is not a new error, but one taught almost 2,000 years ago by a heretical sect called the Ebionites. Paul himself explains what he meant when he wrote to the Philippians:

 In fact, the apostle explains what he means when he says the Christ emptied himself by taking on the nature of a servant. Thus it is not the setting aside of any divine attributes that is being sung about here in Phil 2, but rather the humiliation of the Son of God taking on human form and that “of a servant.” This, of course, is the point Paul is trying to make with those in the Philippian Church. They too are to live the humble lives of servants, following Christ’s example.  (25)

Let me close this article out by restating that God has His own nature, He created man with a human nature, and Satan has his own angelic nature. At no point are any of these “natures” swapped about depending on who is the controlling entity of man. Man did not partake of Satan’s nature at the fall, nor did we receive the nature of God when we were regenerated. Jesus Christ was one eternally with and in the godhead, He became man but never ceased to be God.

We at regeneration do not become one with God in the sense that we are absorbed into the Trinity. We are adopted into the family of God, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but this does not make us divine nor shall we ever become divine. To believe such a thing is exactly what the Mormon’s teach regarding the exaltation of man. There is more in the WOF doctrines that are akin to both the cult of Mormonism and Christian Science, but that expose will have to be dealt with in another issue.   ♦

Copyright © 2004 by Robert Liichow
1. I call the Word of Faith “movement” a cult because it presents a different Gospel, a different Jesus and a totally aberrant doctrine concerning the atoning work of Jesus Christ. I could also add that their views concerning finnancial prosperity, divine healing, their doctrine of both God and man are unorthodox to say the least.
2. Copeland, Kenneth,  Following the Faith of Abraham,  Tape #01-3001 / 3. ibid.

4. Butler, Keith ; The Anointing on the Inside of You,  obtained from http://www.wordoffaith-icc.org/dailydevotional_2php?pagetitle+678  on 6-03-04.

5. bid.  /  6. Hagin, Kenneth, Zoe: The God Kind of Life:  tulsa, OK; Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc.  1989, pp. 35-34,41.  Both type and underlining added for emphasis. 
7. Hagin, Kenneth  The Incarnation  The Word of Faith magazine, December 1980 p. 14
8. Hagin Kenneth. Zoe: The God-Kind of Life: Tulsa, OK  Faith Library, 1981, p.40
9. Copeland, Kenneth,  Following the Faith of Abraham  tape One: Fort Worth, TX.  Kenneth Copeland Ministries,  1989, audiotape  #01-3001,  side 1.
 10. Copeland, Kenneth  The Force of Love   Tape Two: Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries,  1987 audiotape #02-0028, side 1.
11. Copeland, Kenneth  Spirit, Soul, and Body.  Tape One: Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries,  1985,  audiotape #01-0601, side 1.
12. Dollar, Creflo  Our Equality with God Through Righteousness  1/21/2001.
13. Savelle, Jerry.  Framing Your World with the Word of God  Part 2:  Fort Worth, TX.  Jerry Savelle Evangelistic Association, Inc. ,  audiotape #ss-36, side 1.
14, Crouch, Paul,  Praise the Lord”  TBN,  recorded 07/07/86
15. Crouch, Paul.  Praise-a-thon TBN,  recorded  04/02/91
16. Crouch, Paul.  Speaking in the evening on TBN  11/07/97
17. Hinn, Benny, Praise-a-thon”  TBN,  recorded November 1990
18. Hinn, Benny,  Our Position in Christ  tpe #2  1990
19. Hinn, Benny.  This statement was made while he was on TBN,  9/13/99.
20.; Cerullo, Morris,  The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God : Morris Cerullo World Evangelism tape 1.
21. Paul, Earl Satan Unmasked,  Cathedral Shop 1984, p.97 Bold type and underlineing added for emphasis.

22. “Kingdom Now” refers to the belief that Jesus Christ cannot return for His Church until the Church has completely Christianized the world.  This will not happen until a significant number of believers mature to the place of becoming manifested sons of God aka little gods or super-saints.  Paulk has stated this might take as long as another 40,000 years.

23. I have done extensive research concerning this fact and the rate of cancer among WOF pastors and especially their wives is off the scale. Every on of them has received medical treatment. None of them has received a divine healing or a creative miracle.

24. Obtained from http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/overview/overview-05.htm.

25. ibid Underlining added for emphasis.