It well may be that readers will think I have hit my head on something and gone overboard whacked. But, for years I have thought about what I am writing about today. In the last post I challenged the Church to be more accountable for what they pray and those who ae suffereing in their congregations without "palming the wealthier ones off onto the "professionals," and telling the less wealthy to "hang on and have faith."
So how are they to do this? The answer must be two-fold:
A change in theology and a change in organizational structure.
Today we will look at one theology that I believe can be incorporated into most church beliefs. Tomorrow we will look at organizational structure.
So here goes the bombshell!
Incorporate the best--I call it the good centrality of--the Word of Faith teaching. Yes, you heard me correctly.
"You mean those nutcases, Hagin, Copeland, and those guys, you might ask?
Yes, those guys--those are the ones I mean.
Despite many problems, some rather large, in their teaching, there are at least four questions they are asking the larger body of Christ that we simply refuse to answer. Well, all of us except one. Hank Hannegraff has honestly answered them wtihout laughing at them or marginalizing them. I don't agree with some of his answers (and I do agree with others), but I do respect him a whole lot for at least attempting to answer the questions the WOF (short for Word of Faith) people present to us.
I believe that there at least 4 items that we MUST look at if we are to blast out of our unanswered prayer and unsolved problems in the personal lives of our congregants. I am not presenting a holiness theology here. In fact, in a few days I am going to answer Michael Spencer's blog from a few days ago on this subject.
So, here goes the four questions that I believe the church must answer, instead of reflecting the questions through either ignoring the WOF guys or laughing at them.
By the way, there are myraids of people who call themselves faith teachers. For our purposes, I am only going to take up the teachings of the late Kenneth Hagin Sr.
Hagin's chief disciple, Kenneth Copeland, has unfortuantely muddied up the waters with his wrong kenosis teaching, his weird tale of what Jesus did for us in hell, and his so-called prosperity teaching which I prefer to call ostentatious teaching since it goes way beyond the bounds of normative Biblical prosperity.
1. Faith--What is faith and how do we get it? How does it affect answered prayer?
The WOF teachers have this funny idea. They really believe the Bible...I mean literally. Sometimes it is too literally and they can get into trouble. But other times, it is refreshing to see how they drag us back into the true meanings. For example, when they read Hebrews 11:1 and 6 they really beleive it. They really believe that faith is being sure of what is hoped for (the Greek word there for hope is a much stronger sense than the English "golly-gee-I-sure-hope-so- que sera sera sense).
Then in Romans 10:17 when it says that faith comes by hearing (a continuous present tense in the Greek) and hearing by the Word of God, they really think that if someone hears a passage in the Bible over and over, faith might just come.
The WOF people do not distinguish between the faith that saves and the faith that keeps. They believe it works the same. Actually, I think they are as about near the Reformation people (the Confessing Evangelicals) as any Protestant today outside the Reformationists themselves. The WOF teaching is covenental and they teach eternal security for the most part, they do not agree with the "lose your salvation if you blink worng" theology and they do what I believe is a pretty good job of teaching the difference betwen justification and sanctification and not blurring the two.
2. Confession/Meiditation--If faith comes by hearing (not by reading, as Jerry Savelle points out), should we have confessions? They say yes although they are not the historical confessions like Heidelberg (my personal favorite by the way) or the Westminster (I don't like the women passages in this document..LOL), etc. They encourage people to find Bible passages that apply to their situation and confess them. They read in Joshua 1:8 and Pslams 1:1-3 about meditating the law. They understand that this might also be applied to the Apostles' teaching in the NT. They found that the Hebrew word for meditate is "to mutter (over and over)." This is the basis of their confessing the Word teaching.
Can this teaching be carried to far and become formulaic? Oh yes it can and has. But well-blanced non-WOF churches can cure that problem.
3. The Atonement-What exactly did Jesus do on the cross? They believe that He obtained our salvation and also other things including healing. They actually believe Matthew 8:17 and take it context. Hagin eventually read T.J McCrossan, a Presbyterian who lived in the early part of the 20th century. He wrote the book, Bodily Healing and the Atonement. This is one of the best books I've read as it presents a fairly scholarly approach to this subject of Healing in the Atonement. I prefer that to the usual folksiness of most WOF teachers.
McCrossan was the Presbyterian examiner in Greek for pastoral candidates in the presbytery of Minneapolis, MN. He also taught Biblical languages in a Bible college in Canada. He thought the Pentecostals were dead wrong and decided to prove it with his own study in Is.53, Matt. 8:17 and I Peter 2:24. To his amazement he found that the Greek and Hebrew words in those passages meant just what they said. So, he became a Pentecostal. Fortunately today, one needn't leave the Presbyterian church. at least not PCUSA, to believe these things. Well, actually, in the PCUSA you can beleive anything...:)
I could tell how a young man who was paralyzed from the neck down was completely healed and walking in 6 months through continuous prayer for him in my PCUSA Presbyterian NON-Charismatic church. But I won't indulge in emotional and personal examples. Well, not today at least:::)
I won't even go into how many years ago in the same church, a little girl lost half her finger in an accident; she decided God was going to restore it; and by golly it grew back, finger nail and all. I'm not making this stuff up. It's amazing what happens when you take certain things in the Bible seriously.
4. Helping the poor- This is embarrasiing for the church but I have never been in any type of church that regularly talked about helping the poor except liberal mainlines and [evangelical] WOF ones. Now if they can only kick out that awful ostentatiousness teaching and keep to God meeting your needs teaching (Phil 4:9) we can be in business. Basically, Hagin didn't teach that as evidenced in his teaching as well as the book, The Midas Touch he wrote a few years ago in which he refutes much of his disciples' terrible "prosperity"teaching.
But when they are at their best on this subject, the WOF people really do encourage people to believe for the money to give to their church, other Christian ministries and also to the poor in their church and without. They believe this can be a good way for the world to see Christ in us. I think they are right. Jerry Savelle especially really helped me with this. He gives example after example of how God brings him to various people he can help and how he helps them.
Well, perhaps the WOF teacher are not so whacked after all....at least in some areas.
But, sadly, in their organizational structure, they are mising the boat by a mile. We'll talk about church structure tomorrow as a good way to help people.
Au revoir for today.
Steve Went Looking for Grace
2 days ago