But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.( 2 Peter 2:1-2)
The current apostasy that has insinuated itself thoroughly into the Evangelical and Pentecostal church, is the result of a series of false assumptions. the NAR is the fruit of an evolution of those assumption. Branham, the false Prophet, with his signs, wonders and miracles, laid the foundation, teaching that the end would be marked by a Revival of global proportions, rather than near universal apostasy.
Branham taught the Latter Rain heresy, and also the idea that we believers are ‘god men”. He strongly emphasized the “New Prophets for our age” teaching which led directly to restorationism, and the concept that the Church would only be perfected when Apostles and Prophetic ministries are fully restored, and that they would usher in the great revival of “signs and wonders’.
Another lesser known contemporary of Branham came to the forefront around the mid 1960s, named Kenneth E Hagin. Hagin is the Father of the Word-Faith movement. His emphasis was the false notion that we must speak the Word, and that then it will come to pass. He wrote little booklets such as “You Can Have What You Say” and “How To Write Your Own Ticket With God”, in which he taught faith as a concept, which one can learn to master the techniques of.
Another of His books was called “How to have Faith in Your Faith”, in which he literally separates Faith, from the object of Faith, ie God. Hagin taught that we are not merely to have Faith in God, but to have ‘the faith of God’. God used faith, to create the heavens and the earth, He spoke all into existence, thus having the Faith ‘of God’, means that we must realize that we too can speak our own reality into existence.(This is blatant occult gnosticism), but it has deceived millions around the world.
Devotees of Kenneth Hagin and his protege ,Kenneth Copeland redefined prayer, they went from lowly and humble supplication unto God, into Decreeing and proclaiming things into existence.
The so called “message of faith” downplayed the Sovereignty of God, for they taught in essence that the believer is a ‘little god’ and capable of having the same faith as God, if he but knew it by “revelation knowledge”. The emphasis on power, Healing and prosperity of the believer literally altered the faith of millions, and corrupted a good portion of the church around the world.
“Dad Hagin” as he came to be called, derived much of the essence of his teaching through the writings of EW Kenyon, an author, pastor and Evangelist whose faith was a strange mixture of Christianity, New Thought, science of mind and theosophy. Hagin devoured his books and inculcated Kenyon’s teaching into his own books and sermons, to the point where He was successfully sued for plagiarism by Kenyon’s daughter.
The Berean Call relates Kenyon’s powerful influence on the “Father of the Faith Movement”,
E.W. Kenyon wrote mockingly, “We have sung `Nearer the cross’ and we have prayed that we might be `Nearer the cross’ but the cross has no salvation in it. It is a place of failure and defeat” (Advanced Bible Course, p.279). Does this sound familiar? It should. Kenneth Hagin copies him, (as he did most of his theology) saying, “Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God…Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had him bound, and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence. (Death By Faith)
This kind of disparagement of the weakness of the cross, and glorification of power and victory, has saturated the “Faith Movement” to this day. The blasphemous denial of the victory on the cross, and the “Jesus had to die Spiritually ” heresy come from Kenyon, to Hagin to Copeland, Joyce Myers and a host of other Word Faith acolytes in the church today. Thus there current “revival” that is afflicting the Church and turning many into heresy, has come directly from heretics and gnostics such as Branham, Hagin, Kenyon and Copeland.
Oral Roberts ministry owned a Plane, to ferry him from meeting to meeting. His pilot was a man named Kenneth Copeland. Copeland became engrossed with Hagin’s teachings and totally absorbed them, transforming his life with “the Message of Faith”, and eventually compelling him out on the road as an Evangelist and teacher.
Copeland and Hagin became popular in the 1970s and 80’s hosting their Believers Voice of Victory conferences, mass producing cassette teaching tapes, and Hagin began his Rhema Bible college, which has trained thousands of ministers ,promoting the Word Faith heresies, such as “Little gods” theology, “Jesus died spiritually” , gnostic “Revelation knowledge”, and popularizing EW Kenyon’s new age Christian books.
The Word Faith Movement deeply influenced Evangelicalism (Not for the better in my view) with it’s emphasis on victory, prosperity and healing, as well as it’s disparagement of true repentance, Christian humility, and acceptance of suffering as possibly being part of God’s Sovereign plan. Copeland and Hagin have spawned proteges across the globe, such as Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, Bill Johnson, Fred Price, TD Jakes and Rodney Howard Browne, all of whom have had major influence on the church as it is today.
I suppose it would be inevitable, for there are so many thousands and perhaps millions who want this error, even more than they want the true gospel. If there wasn’t a Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn, someone would have to invent one, because there has developed a ready demand for their heretical message and practice.
A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?( Jeremiah 5:30-31)
What will they do in the end? Where will it lead us?