Archive for the 'Word of faith' Category

The youth God squad and healing

Friday, April 27th, 2012

clip_image002Courtesy The Australian

By Spencer D Gear

The Australian newspaper (story from the Sunday Mail) reported on ‘Teen God squad Culture Shifters’ miracle cure claims’ (April 15, 2012). The account began:

CHILDREN as young as 13 claim they have instantly healed hundreds of people using the miracle powers of Jesus on Queensland streets.

The Pentecostal group Culture Shifters in Queensland says it has healed people suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis and is developing a large youth following.

Children from the group have been approaching people at random on the street, prompting alarm from parents and warnings from doctors for the sick to seek medical attention.

“Anyone who has a medical condition should always seek advice from their doctor,” Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd said.

Leaders, aged in their teens and 20s, claim they have also healed an entire football team’s injuries, given hearing to a deaf woman and brought sight to a girl’s blind eye.

What is the verification for this kind of healing? Have the football team’s injuries been checked by a medical practitioner to confirm that the healings are legitimate? What about the healed deaf woman and healed blind eye? How do we know they are valid healings?

The story went on to say that this 160-member group of Culture Shifters is from Christian Outreach Centre, Bridgeman Downs (a northern Brisbane suburb) and is led by Grant Shaw, 27, and his wife, Emma, 23.

It claimed these Culture Shifters were even talking to teens in busy places like the Chermside Shopping Centre.

Some live action

If you want to see these people in action, live, see the report on Today Tonight, ‘Teenage God squad’ (Yahoo!7 News). Viewing these images caused me some concern. It is typical of some of the scenes I have seen in Pentecostal and charismatic churches with people falling and lying spread out on the floor after ‘falling under the Spirit’.

My concerns

Here are some of my concerns:

  1. It is rare for the mass media to report in an accurate and sympathetic manner in most ordinary circumstances with the church. Viewing something as extreme as this is hardly going to attract balanced journalism, in my view.
  2. The mass media can give Christianity a bashing on too many occasions. See ‘Gay rights protest outside Court’s church’; ‘Sometimes. love, even if a gift from Jesus, is not good enough’; ‘Sunday nights with John Cleary: Bishop Shelby Spong’. Therefore, with the Culture Shifters (Teen God squad) there could be a possibility that the media have taken a true event and given some media spin to make it sound like the deluded fanatics are involved in this event.
  3. From the news item and the TV program, there is no way to know if the media are reporting accurately. However,
  4. As a former Assemblies of God minister and Bible college teacher, I can say that I’ve seen some fruit-loopy things happen in the name of being ‘slain in the Spirit’. I have to admit that some of what I’ve seen could have involved another spirit.
  5. I have known a very few people associated with various Christian Outreach Centres and have found them to be reasonable, committed evangelical Christians who love the Lord and are available for the Lord’s ministry through the gifts of the Spirit. They are sane people whose relationship with Jesus is sound.
  6. By the very nature of Pentecostal-charismatic churches, we can expect to see some extreme behaviour – depending on the extent to which the pastors and elders maintain the biblical requirement, ‘But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way’ (1 Cor. 14:40 NIV). We have seen out-there behaviour associated with the alleged Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Pensacola Outpouring.
  7. However, charismatic manifestations have extended to other churches. An example locally to me is Burpengary Baptist Church (northern Brisbane).

What we need

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Part of the problem, as I see it, is the need for verification of what they are doing in a very secular Australia. I do not find anywhere in Scripture where God promises physical healing to all who are prayed for. The secular media love to report failures. Is doing this on the streets risky and could it give false hope? Also, Today Tonight reported that it has not seen any certificates to verify the healings. This is a valid request.

I believe in the God who can heal, but we must never order him when to do this. He’s the sovereign Lord. What do secular people think when they are prayed for and nothing happens?

This raises another issue. It seems to me that the Scriptures teach that the ministry of healing is to be within the church and not taking it to the secular mainstream. The gifts of healing (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30) and praying for the sick, anointing with oil (James 5:14) are church ministries within the church. There are good reasons why the Lord has made it this way in a pastoral, caring environment where there also is further support.

Was healing ever an evangelistic tool after the Lord’s resurrection? I know some will turn to Mark 16:15-18 where proclaiming the Gospel is associated with ‘these signs will accompany those who believe’, including laying hands on the sick and they will recover (v. 18). However, Mark 16:9-20 is not in the earliest Greek manuscripts and some other early Greek NT witnesses that we have. It could have been an insertion that was not in the original documents. However, it does seem to indicate that this was an example of the continuing ministry of the church after the death of the apostles.

To address this textual issue, I commend, ‘Irony in the end: A textual and literary analysis of Mark 16:8’.

Conclusion

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The gifts of the Spirit do continue into the 21st century. See my articles,

We need to take seriously the exhortation of Scripture to ‘weigh carefully’ the content of the gifts of the Spirit. The ‘weigh carefully’ message was particularly related to the gift of prophecy. See my article, ‘1 Corinthians 14:29: Weigh carefully’.

There is no way to know if the healing ministry of the teen God squad of the Culture Shifters is genuine without verification of the reality of healings. There is a danger that a wrong emphasis can be given to secular people when there is prayer for healing and no healing takes place. God’s gift of healing is sovereign and according to his will. See my article, ‘Should God heal all Christians who pray for healing?

Care must be taken to avoid Pentecostal extremes. However, the mass media are not likely to deliver a balanced view of what is happening. Extreme behaviour will attract the media, but balanced treatment can’t be expected from the secular journalists. They have a different agenda. When God heals, it is designed to bring glory and attraction to the Lord.

‘But all things should be done decently and in order’ (1 Cor 14:40 ESV)

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.

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Double faults and not aces: Margaret Court

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The falsehood of ‘blab it and grab it’ theology

By Spencer D Gear

The cover story in New Life Christian newspaper (Melbourne, Australia), “Tennis great aces crowd” (King & Woodall 2004:1), should have come with a warning.  The headline should have read, “Tennis great also serves faults, even double faults, to the crowd.”  It was stated that Margaret Court, former international tennis player, was “the only tennis player in the world, male or female, ever to win 64 major tournaments and [was] the founder of Victory Life Centre, a Western Australian [Perth] church with an average Sunday attendance of 1300 people” (p. 1).  No matter what the size of her congregation, I have grave concerns about the content of some of her theology.

Margaret Court 1964.jpg
Margaret Court AO MBE in 1964
(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Based on this article, it is stated that Margaret Court gave a great testimony about her Christian life and ministry at the 21st Melbourne Prayer Breakfast, Melbourne Convention Centre, 7am 29 October 2004.  However, it was served up with some spiritual poison.  I am referring to these statements: “I have learned the power of words.  God created the world with words.  He framed it in words.  We need to teach our young ones to speak in a way that shapes their destiny” (King & Woodall 2004:2).

I have spoken with Christians in the charismatic movement who have been devastated by this teaching.  They have sought prosperity in following this formula of visualisation and making positive affirmations, but it left them devastated – and still in poverty.  Others go around confessing their healing, but the sickness continues.  I find this to be cruel Christianity.  It promises much, but has a habit of not delivering all of the time.

This is known as positive confession, promoted by a segment of charismatic Christianity known as the Faith Movement.  The Watchman Fellowship (2000) defines positive confession as: “the belief that if a believer speaks ‘spiritual’ or ‘faith-filled’ words then he [or she] can have what he [or she] says.”  Kenneth E. Hagin Sr. (who died in 2003 at the age of 86) advocated it with these kinds of statements [2] :

3d-red-star-small“Did you ever stop to think about having faith in your own faith?  Evidently God had faith in His faith, because He spoke words of faith and they came to pass. . .  In other words, having faith in your words is having faith in your faith.  That’s what you’ve got to learn to do to get things from God: Have faith in your faith” (Hagin 1980a:4-5).

3d-red-star-small Hebrews 4:14 states, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to  the faith we profess” (NIV)  Hagin uses this verse to claim that “you are what you say” (Hagin 1974: 86-87).

3d-red-star-small  “Don’t pray it; say it” (Hagin 1979b:78).
3d-red-star-small  “Your lips . . . can make you a victor or keep you a captive” (Hagin 1974:91).
3d-red-star-small  “What I confess, I possess” (Hagin  1974:93).
3d-red-star-small  Hagin uses Rom. 10:8 to justify his belief that “believing with the heart and saying it with the mouth . . . creates reality” (1974:89).

3d-red-star-small  “If you are defeated, you are defeated with your own lips” (Hagin 1980b:10).
3d-red-star-small  If a believer states, “According to God’s word ‘I’m healed'” and then says, ‘Yes, I’ve got heart symptoms,” the latter confession will nullify the result of the first confession (Hagin 1980c,:90, 138).

3d-red-star-small Hagin uses Prov. 6:2 to justify this statement: “The reason so many are defeated is that they have a negative confession” (Hagin 1974:90-91).

3d-red-star-small “Every time you confess . . . your weakness and your disease, you are openly confessing that the Word of God is not true” (1974:118).  Since he began following this procedure, Hagin claims that he has not had a headache since 1933 (Hagin 1979a:6).

Margaret Court’s teaching was stated by Hagin in this way, “The kind of faith that spoke the universe into existence is dealt to our hearts” (Hagin  1980d:74). It seems as though Hagin got his teaching from E. W. Kenyon who stated, “What I confess, I possess” (Kenyon 1970:98; Hagin 1974:92; see McConnell 1988, for an assessment).

This kind of teaching is found in other leaders of the Faith Movement:

3d-red-star-small Kenneth Copeland:

“Confession is a powerful word. It’s a Bible word that means far more than just an affirmation of something.

Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart man believeth…and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

In other words, confession brings possession. It brings possession of everything God has promised us in His Word. It brings salvation, healing, protection, prosperity and so on.
That’s why, when we confess our faith, we’re not simply affirming something positive we want in our lives. We’re staking our claim on what is already ours according to God’s Word.
In light of that, our responsibility is to go to the Word, find scripture that covers whatever we’re believing God for, and then stand in faith on the truth of that Word. If it’s something not promised in the Word, we have no business confessing it” (Copeland 2007).

3d-red-star-smallJoyce Meyer: “We must realize and understand the power carried by our thoughts and words.  They are so powerful that they can bring either blessings or curses into our lives, depending on their nature.  Our thoughts and words are like the rudder of a ship — they may seem small, but they affect the very direction of our lives” (Meyer 2004).
3d-red-star-smallCharles Capps has written a book titled, The Tongue: A Creative Force (original edition 1976; rev 2012).
3d-red-star-smallFred Price said, “When I first got saved they didn’t tell me I could do anything. What they told me to do was that whenever I prayed I should always say, ‘The will of the Lord be done.,’ Now, doesn’t that sound humble? It does. Sounds like humility, it’s really stupidity. I mean, you know, really, we insult God. 1 mean, we really do insult our Heavenly Father. We do; we really insult Him without even realizing it. If you have to say, If it be thy will or’ Thy will be done’-if you have to say that, then you’re calling God a fool because he’s the One that fold us to ask. . .  If God’s gonna give me what He wants me to have, then it doesn’t matter what I ask. I’m only gonna get what God wants me to have. So that’s an insult to God’s intelligence” (Price 1990).

I was alerted to the dangers of “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it” theology a number of years ago by a friend who became a Christian after many years as an occult practitioner.  Her question to me was: “Why are these Pentecostal Christians using the same kind of technique I used in witchcraft?”

In David Conway’s book, Magic: An Occult Primer, he wrote:

“Unseparable from magical speculation about words is the theory of vibrations, which supposes that certain sounds have a powerful acoustic impact on both the spiritual and astral worlds. Like the spiritual world and astral plane can in some circumstances be affected by sound, so that verbal magic may be said to derive its power not only from the idea contained in certain words, but from the peculiar vibrations these words create when spoken” (Conway 1972:74-75).

Many teachers in the Faith Movement would justifiably deny any association with psychic and occult powers in their doctrines of prosperity and healing, but the origins of this technique are found in witchcraft.  Also read Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science.  She has a similar kind of false teaching.

I am concerned about this heretical teaching for these reasons:

button, flashing, ac1009 I understand it is idolatry because it promotes faith in a god of metaphysics and not the Lord God of the universe, as revealed in the Christian Scriptures. The problem relates to the fact that biblical language for God is used, but the theology taught is that of metaphysics.
button, flashing, ac1009[1] God is sovereign and does not obey human laws.  Psalm 115:3 (NIV) states, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him”.  See also Dan. 4:34-35 and Eph. 1:11.

button, flashing, ac1009[2] The Almighty God is a person and not a principle.  If we speak of the “force of faith” (Kenneth Copeland 2012), it sounds more like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars who manipulated the “good side of the force” with mind control.

button, flashing, ac1009[3] Exodus. 20:7 (NIV) states, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  The “force of faith” seems to me to be taking the Lord’s name in vain.

button, flashing, ac1009[4] Human beings are creatures and not the Creator.  Who are we to create healing and prosperity through the words we speak? That is the responsibility of the sovereign Lord God.
button, flashing, ac1009[5] A. W. Tozer wrote that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us….  The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself”  (Tozer 1961:1).  Positive confession exalts human beings with the “creative powers” of the word of faith.  It’s a poor view of the nature of God, claiming that we can manipulate God by the words we speak.  Back in 1988 when Dan McConnell wrote his critique of the Faith Movement he made a sound assessment: “Creation is from the Father; through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit.  Man is a creature and no creature in the Bible is ever accorded creative powers: no man, no angel, no devil, no animal” (McConnell 1988:145).

button, flashing, ac1009[6] Faith theology in its positive confession twists the relationship between God’s Word and His will.  The universe is not held together by spiritual  laws, but by God Himself (see Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17).  The Word of God is not an independent force that manipulates God

button, flashing, ac1009[7] Faith theology is based on an erroneous translation of Mark 11:22 by translating it as a subjective genitive: “Have the faith of God” (‘The God Kind of Faith’, Kenneth E. Hagin).  New Testament Greek scholar, C.E.B. Cranfield, has called this translation as a subjective genitive, “have the sort of faith God has,” a “monstrosity of exegesis” (Cranfield 1959:361).  “Have faith in God,” an objective genitive, is the correct translation.  God is not granting godhood to us (i.e. have the faith of God) but we are exhorted to have faith in the person of God Himself.  Renowned Greek scholar of the 20th century, A. T. Robertson, agrees that the translation ought to be, “Have faith in God.”  He refers us to other examples in Gal. 2:26; Rom. 3:22, 26 (Robertson 1930:361).

In speaking of the context of Mark 11:23, Kenneth E. Hagin stated, “You can have what you say” (1974:117).  See also Hagin (1979a:3; 1980a:3-4).


Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, Australia (public domain)

I have so much appreciated Margaret Court’s feats on the tennis court and I don’t find it a pleasant task having to expose this false teaching, but the Scriptures call upon us to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 NIV).

Some will not like the fact that I have mentioned names when exposing false doctrine, but that is exactly what Paul did to Peter in Galatians 2:11 (NIV), “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong”.  Consider other examples of Paul’s correction of people by naming them: I Tim. 1:20 (NIV), “Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” and 2 Tim. 4:14 (NIV), “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.”  What did the apostle John do with somebody who publicly taught false doctrine?  “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.  So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (3 John 1:9-10 NIV).  We have had these examples in writing for about 2000 years.

These verses confirm F. F. Bruce’s wise counsel: “Since the offence was public, the rebuke had also to be public” (Bruce 1982:132).

Positive confession is a spiritual cancer in the body of Christ and we dare not present it as an ace when it is a fault.

It has been promoted openly; it needs to be exposed in public as well.

For further refutations of the positive confession and the prosperity false teaching, see:

References:

Bruce, F. F. 1982, New International Greek Testament Commentary on Galatians, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Capps, C. 1976, The Tongue: A Creative Force, Harrison House Publishers, Tulsa, OK..

Conway, D 1972. Magic: An Occult Primer.  New York: E P Dutton.

Copeland, K 2007. Tame Your Tongue and Set Your Course By Kenneth Copeland. Available at: http://christianebuymarketplace.blogspot.com.au/2007/11/tame-your-tongue-and-set-your-course-by.html (Accessed 13 January 2016).

Cranfield, C. E. B. 1958, The Gospel According to Saint Mark, Cambridge University Press, London.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1974, Bible Faith Study Course, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1979a, Words, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1979b, What To Do When Faith Seems Weak and Victory Lost, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1980a, Having Faith in Your Faith, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1980b, You Can Have What You Say, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1980c, The Name of Jesus, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

Hagin Sr., K. E. 1980d, New Thresholds of Faith, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK

Hanegraaff, H. 1993, Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon.

Kenyon, 1970, The Hidden Man (5th ed), Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, Lynwood, WA.

King, A. & Woodall, H. 2004, ‘Tennis great aces crowd’, New Life, 11 November 2004, pp. 1-2. Now available at: http://www.marketplaceconnections.com/archive/2004/mpb_2004.htm (Accessed 24 May 2015).

McConnell, D. R. 1988, A Different Gospel, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts.

Meyer, J. 2004, ‘The mouth has a mind of its own’, Available from: http://www.joycemeyer.org/cgi-bin/msoft/msoft.cgi [18 November 2004]. Now available at: www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=the_mouth_has_a_mind_of_its_own (Accessed 24 May 2015).

Price, F. 1990, ‘Ever Increasing Faith’ television programme on TBN November 16 ,1990, cited in ”I have what I think and say I have’, Let Us Reason Ministries, Available from: http://www.letusreason.org/Wf8.htm [18 November 2004].

Robertson, A. T. 1930, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 1, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee.

Simpson, S. 1999, ‘Dear Saint, Don’t believe what they say!  Rebuttal to the Believer’s Voice of Victory, “Q&A” section, October 1999’. Available at: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/vov.html [18 November 2004].

Tozer, A. W. 1961, The Knowledge of the Holy, Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco.

Warrington, K. 2000, ‘Healing and Kenneth Hagin’, Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 119-138, Available at: http://www.apts.edu/aeimages/file/ajps_pdf/00-1-kwarrington.pdf (Accessed 13 January 2016).

The Watchman Fellowship 2000, ‘Positive confession’, The Watchman Expositor, vol. 10, no. 3, 1993, Available from: http://watchman.org/reltop/posconf.htm [18 November 2004].

Endnotes

2.  Most of these quotes were accessed through Warrington (2000) and McConnell (1988).  See especially McConnell’s chapter, “The Doctrine of Faith” (1988:134 ff).

Copyright (c) 2007 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at date:  13 January 2016.

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