Since all three of the previous movements largely disregarded Francis Schaffer’s concerns, believers were becoming increasingly more biblically illiterate. The focuses were primarily on the use of psychology and Madison Avenue marketing to bring unbelievers into the church or to get politically involved in an attempt to “Christianize” the culture through legislation. While this was going on the fourth movement, The Prosperity Church Movement, had a wide birth open for growth. This emanated from what had been, and largely continues to be, the theologically orthodox and conservative Pentecostal and Charismatic element in the church. The late Kenneth Hagin had been proclaiming his Word Faith theology through the 1960s and 1970s with marginal success. In 1976 he launched his first television program.
In capitalizing on the availability of mass media and the progressive trend away from doctrine and sound teaching, Hagin advanced his heretical doctrines cross denominationally through the “Charismatic Renewal Movement.” It is true his “strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3) predated Hagin but prior to this time were fairly well kept in check through denominationalism. Now, the average church attender would spend one to three hours each week in their local church and have the rest of the week to fill up on other popular teachers who had a much larger congregation via the radio, television and bookstores. Although some television and radio preachers were very solid, others, like Hagin, were slowly introducing witchcraft using Christian terminology into the church.
One of Hagin’s heroes was the late William Branham, a popular healer who denied the doctrine of the Trinity and claimed that it was of demonic origin. Sound doctrine was clearly not something with which Hagin was concerned. He adopted from E.W. Kenyon (someone very impacted by New Thought metaphysics) the idea that faith is a force which allows one to control the world around them. In essence, faith is more powerful than God and is something that even He has to tap in to. There are just four steps in the magikal incantation which if learned and carried out correctly, requires God to perform according to our whim. Like a magic genie, God is let out of the bottle so to speak, to grant our command if we but say it, do it, receive it and tell it to others.
Kenneth Copeland came on the scene and took Hagin’s false teachings farther. Once Scripture was no longer the final authority for faith and practice, anything could be proclaimed as “Christian,” and the untrained and undiscerning had no defense against the onslaught of false teachers.
Kenneth Copeland got his start in ministry as a direct result of memorizing Hagin’s messages. It wasn’t long before he had learned enough from Hagin to establish his own following. To say his teachings are heretical would be an understatement — blasphemous is more like it. Copeland brashly pronounces God to be the greatest failure of all time, boldly proclaims that “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross” (emphasis in original), and describes Christ in hell as an “emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit.”(1)
He has also taught that we don’t have a god in us but that we are one.(2) Adam was God manifest in the flesh:
God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself, and in the Garden of Eden He did just that. He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even. . . . Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus. . . . Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh(3)
God and Adam were the same exact size:
God spoke Adam into existence in authority with words. These words struck Adam’s body in the face. His body and God were exactly the same size.(4)
God lives on a planet:
You don’t think earth was first, do you? Huh? Well, you don’t think that God made man in His image, and then made earth in some other image? There is not anything under this whole sun that’s new. Are you hearing what I’m saying? This is all a copy. It’s a copy of home. It’s a copy of the Mother Planet. Where God lives, He made a little one just like His and put us on it.(5)
And a myriad of other false and occultic teachings.
Another popular teacher, Benny Hinn, joined the circuit with his frequent “revelations” which are anti-biblical such as that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each have a body, soul and spirit and that there are “nine of them.”(6) In addition Hinn has taught that Christ ceased being God and became one with Satan and had in place of His divine nature a Satanic nature.(7)
According to Hinn, there were two deaths of the cross: a spiritual death, then a physical one. Jesus died first spiritually. At that point He literally took on the nature of (or became one with) Satan. Also, at that point, Jesus lost His deity and God the Father deserted Him. Then Jesus died physically and His spirit (which at that time was only the spirit of a man) was taken to hell.(8)
In 1979 a young oneness Pentecostal and Word Faith teacher by the name of T.D. Jakes founded his first church in Montgomery, WV. Within ten years he was a widely accepted and sought after author and speaker. He is now the pastor of one of the largest multiracial churches in the United States in Dallas, TX. Oneness Pentecostal pastors, Phillips, Craig and Dean are a very well known and accepted “Christian” contemporary musical group who have performed in many Evangelical venues including Willow Creek Community Church and Moody Bible Institute. Their music can also often be heard on Moody Bible Institute radio stations.
The 1980s also saw the acceptance of the “Signs and Wonders Movement” as Vinson Synan points out:
Added to these is the newest category, the “Third Wave” of the Spirit, which originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber. These consisted of mainline Evangelicals who moved in signs and wonders, but who disdained labels such as “pentecostal” or “charismatic.” By 1990 this group numbered some 33,000,000 members in the world.(9)
In turn this birthed Rodney Howard Brown’s “Holy Laughter” revival, the “Toronto Blessing,” “Brownsville Revival” and a number of variations which further substituted the experiential at the sacrifice of Scripture, truth and orthodoxy.
Make no mistake, many well intentioned people are involved in each of these four movements (the Protecting, the Popular and the Political and the Prosperity Church Movements), but the death of sound teaching in deference to pragmatism, has had a devastating effect on the Body of Christ. Left virtually unchecked we are now dealing with the exponential growth of false teachers seeking to profitably fill the self interest of the human psyche.
The church has made major shifts in focus which obvoiusly impacts its view of itself and its place in the world. Over the next couple of weeks Jonathon Miles will pick up with a sort of recap of the last few blogs to show how this has impacted the church and individual beleivers.
1 Hank Hanegraaff, CRI Statement DC755-1, “What’s Wrong With the Faith Movement (Part one): E.W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel,” http://www.equip.org/free/DC755-1.htm
2 Kenneth Copeland, “The Force of Love” audiotape
3 “Following the Faith of Abraham I”, 1989 audiotape #01-3001 side 1
4 Holy Bible, Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition 1991, 45, emphasis in original
5 “Following the Faith of Abraham I”, 1989 audiotape #01-3001, side 1
6 Benny Hinn, “A New Spirit,” Orlando Christian Center Broadcast, Trinity Broadcasting Network, October 13, 1990.
7 Benny Hinn, Orlando Christian Center Broadcast, Trinity Broadcasting Network, December 9, 1990
8 G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, Personal Freedom Outreach, Eighth Edition, May 2001, p.20.
9 Vinson Synan, Phd., The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement, The Holy Spirit Research Center, January 4, 2002, p. 14; http://www.oru.edu/university/library/holyspirit/pentorg1.html