The Word of Faith movement is not an easy subject to write on as it does not have a formal doctrine that all proponents agree with. However, about 3 years ago I began researching this movement. Through the years, I had read books by Hank Hanegraaf and Dave Hunt that were deeply critical of this movement and seemed to ‘shoot arrows’ directly at Kenneth Copeland. I have watched hundreds of hours of Kenneth Copeland’s broadcasts and have listened to much of Jerry Savelle’s ministry podcasts as part of my research.
I have found that much of what is written against the Word of Faith movement is often taken out of context. I do have concerns over Kenneth Copeland’s interpretation of what happened when Jesus was physically dead for 3 days. Additionally, I am uncomfortable with assertions of Copeland’s regarding the physical description of God as being a certain height and weight. However, on the concepts of faith and wealth I have discovered that much of what is written against them is indeed out of context as I stated earlier.
I have never heard Kenneth Copeland say that ‘if you send me money you will be wealthy’ as is asserted. Psalms 112 is a chapter that Copeland often refers to. In that chapter, we find promises to the man who fears the Lord and finds great delight in his commandments. In verse 3, it says wealth and riches will be in that house. Many conservatives will say, “Well that’s not necessarily monetary wealth.” I totally agree. However, there is no indication that monetary wealth is not being included. Additionally, in verse 5 it says that this man who fears the Lord and finds great delight will have enough that he will be a lender.
While I am not convinced that God wants everyone driving luxury cars and living in mansions, here we see the Word of God is promising increase to the person that finds great delight in His law. I realize you live in Africa and I don’t have much knowledge on the financial lifestyles of Christians on your continent. However, I do know in America that most people to include Christians carry credit cards. Those who are blessed enough to be buying a home usually always do so through the use of a mortgage loan that is stretched over a 30 year time frame. However, in Romans 13:8 we are commanded to “owe no man anything.” So, could it be that when we choose to use debt instead of relying upon God as Jehovah Jireh that we actually exempt ourselves from the benefits promised us in Psalms 112?
When I have watched Kenneth Copeland, he is very strong in teaching against using debt. If Christians instead only bought when they could afford to with cash, they would have more resources to invest in the work of the Lord. They would have more money to help their fellowman and they would insulate themselves from downturns in the market because they would be debt free. Imagine if all the millions who claim to be Christian suddenly did not use debt ever again. How would that change the work of ministry? Many Christians literally forfeit their ability to help ministries and other people because they pay thousands of dollars in interest to the credit card and mortgage companies against the teachings of God’s Word.
Regarding faith, the Word of Faith opponents often say that people like the Copeland’s treat faith as if it is a power that is not Godly. However in Mark 5:34 and again in Mark 10:52, Jesus tells those who had just been healed that their faith had made them whole. Additionally, in Hebrews chapter 11 we read about how the many people throughout the history of the Israelite nation accomplished much ‘by faith’. While we need to be careful that we don’t use faith as some form of witchcraft incantation, to God faith is a big deal. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one has to admit that there is some kind of an active component in Scripture regarding faith. It should not be considered wrong to want to strengthen your faith.
While some would say the Word of Faith movement is heretical, through extensive study I am not as convinced. When quotes are lifted out of context, you can make someone almost say anything. But, when their teachings are truly examined in the entire context of their messages, you will find them to be more biblical than opponents are willing to admit. Again, I am not a total adherent to the Word of Faith movement. I do have concerns with some of Kenneth Copeland’s theology. But, I consider him a Christian brother and wonder how other Christians can speak so viciously especially when context has not been respected in their writings. I think the best advice I can give you is that you be as the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and examine what is being taught in light of what is expressed in Scripture.