Hank Hanegraaff's book entitled, "Christianity in Crisis" was a bestseller in the early 1990's.
A revised edition entitled "Christianity in Crisis 21st Century" was published in 2009; and so,
I decided to lead my church in a study of this book in the fall of 2011. This web page was derived
primarily from my study of these two books along with other supplementary resources.
I want to begin with a story that Hanegraaff tells in his first edition that should help all of us
to better understand how dangerous this movement really is. It is the story of Larry and Lucky
Parker. Their tragic tale was courageously published in 1980 by Harvest House under the title
"We Let Our Son Die." This book recounts the tragic details of their misguided faith. Having
been warned about the danger of making "negative confessions" by a word of faith Preacher,
as well as the power associated with "positive confessions," the Parkers decided to put their
faith to the test by withholding insulin from their diabetic son named Wesley. As most of us would have expected, Wesley soon lapsed into a diabetic coma; but nevertheless, the Parker's continued to withhold this much needed drug, and they chose instead to continue making "positive confessions" about their son's most certain recovery. Predictably, their son Wesley died; yet, even after his demise, the Parker's refused to abandon their misguided conception of faith. Instead
of having a funeral, for example, they planned a "resurrection service" and for more than a year
they insisted that Wesley would rise from the dead. Eventually, both Larry and Lucky were tried and convicted of manslaughter and child abuse. Hanegraaff's comments about this incident are as follows:
"A tragic tale? Yes. But even more tragic is that countless other stories like this could be
painfully retold. In each case the moral is always the same: a flawed concept of faith inevitably
leads to shipwreck - sometimes spiritually, in other cases physically, and in still other scenarios
both." (Christianity in Crisis Pages 61-62)
Due, in my opinion, to the fact that so many in our modern society are Biblically illiterate
and Spiritually gullible, the word of faith movement has become much more popular now than
it was in the early 90's. Joel Osteen, for example, claims to have 47,000 church members
and shortly after publishing his bestseller entitled "Your Best Life Now" had reached the status
of being a multimillionaire. With this much prestige and wealth at stake in this cultic movement,
it should not surprise us to discover that some of this movement's most well-known adherents despise and even threaten those, such as Hanegraaff, who have enough courage to call them
on the carpet and confront their heresies. You will find some examples of those threats in this next video.
Todd Bentley is one of those Hank Hanegraaff identifies in his book as being associated with the word of faith movement. His healing services which became labeled as "The Lakeland
Outpouring" in April and May of 2008attracted thousands upon thousands of people and some flew there from as far away as California hoping that their loved ones might be healed of various infirmities. He is a well-tattooed faith healer who makes some amazing claims. He claims, for example, to have not only the gift of tongues but also "...an enduement of power from on high
for miracles, signs and wonders." He also claims that the "tree of life" once appeared in his living room, and some time later a twenty foot tall angel appeared there as well. In addition to this, he claims to have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in Redding, California. He described Jesus' eyes as being the brownest he'd ever seen reminding him of "Bambi." Bentley stated on one occasion that Jesus was going to come "in person" and appear onstage on June 8, 2008,
but he later hedged his bets by saying that Christ's appearance might be a "spiritual experience" or "atmosphere" as opposed to an actual second coming.
One of the most disturbing features of his ministry is the fact that he often resorts to violence as a means of "healing" people. In this next video, he describes his own methods. The worst
I have ever heard of was when he actually kicked a man in the stomach who was suffering from stage four colon cancer. You will be able to see him do this in the second video. Personally,
I think this man ought to be incarcerated rather than being revered by thousands upon thousands of gullible and/or desperate people.
Benny Hinn's Faith Healing Crusades Exposed
In this next video, you will see how NBC Dateline exposed Benny Hinn's healing ministry as a carefully orchestrated scam. Unfortunately, the video
could not be embedded in my website. So, you will need to follow this link
to the You Tube site.
Creflo Dollar Claims That God Wants You to be Rich
and That Jesus Christ Was Rich
I thoroughly disagree for a variety of reasons including the fact that Jesus'
parents had to use two turtledoves as a sacrifice (Luke 2:24), and that Jesus
Himself said that he was at times homeless (Luke 9:58). This video reveals
that I am not alone in my criticism of the prosperity gospel.
An Evaluation of Their False Teachings
1) Joel Osteen
I want to begin with Joel Osteen, because he is so popular in our area. In the past, I have
characterized Joel as "a Feel Good Preacher," because I have viewed him as being primarily
a motivational speaker who deliberately avoids controversial subjects like: homosexuality,
abortion and eternal judgment. After reading Hank Hanegraaff's book, however, I have come
to the conclusion that I was being far too kind to Joel. For you see, Joel Osteen is a classic
example of a Word of Faith Preacher who teaches things that are commonly found in the
metaphysical cults such as their belief in "The Law of attraction."
"The Law of Attraction," according to one very popular metaphysical cult Teacher named
Rhonda Byrne, is the most powerful force in the universe. "Quantum Physicists tell us that
the entire universe emerged from thought!" says Rhonda Byrne, "You create your life through
your thoughts and the law of attraction, and every single person does the same. It doesn't just
work if you know about it. It has always been working in your life and every other person's life
throughout history." Three simple steps can bring positive results according to Byrne, namely: asking, believing and receiving. In fact, Byrne says that this is what has enabled her to
maintain her ideal weight of 116 pounds, and that she can now eat whatever she wants.
"Eating too much is not what makes you overweight," says Rhonda Byrne, "It is merely your
thought that food is responsible for it that does this." So, how does this compare to what Joel
Osteen teaches? Well, in his book "Your Best Life Now," Osteen said this.
“You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have
enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give
birth to it. This is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you are
saying is good or bad, positive or negative”
Joel writes about a time in his own life when he was guilty of making "negative confessions."
He and his wife were living in what he called "a crooked little house" when one day they came
upon a beautiful house in the final stages of construction. He was so convinced that owning
such a house was beyond the realm of possibility that he admits he continuously spoke words
of fear. He says that his wife Victoria, however, did not. Over the next several months, she kept
speaking words of faith and victory. Eventually, Joel abandoned his "negative confessions"
and started agreeing with her; and as a result, they now live in a big beautiful house.
Joel's great faith, he claims is now being harvested by his son Jonathan who, when he was
told that he might one day preach in the Compaq center, said, "Oh no, Daddy, I'm going to be
preaching in Reliant Stadium (The place where the Houston Texan's currently play football).." Apparently, the sky is the limit if one can perfect the words of faith; and as scriptural proof,
Joel quotes Romans 4:17 as saying,
“The scriptures tell us that we are to call things that are not as if they already were”
Question = Is this what Romans 4:17actually teaches us to do?
Answer = not at all
In fact, this is how the verse sounds when it is read out of the New American Standard
Version of the Bible; It says
“(as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence
of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being
that which does not exist”
By replacing the word "Him" or "God" with the word "We", Osteen has taken this verse out
of its context and has used it to claim that "We" have the authority to do what only God
is qualified to do. This, by the way, is a common flaw in the theology of many Word of Faith
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Joel is also guilty of teaching something that is not at all Biblical and thoroughly heretical
regarding the atonement of Christ. He teaches that Jesus spent three days in Hell doing
battle with Satan. Satan was no match for our Champion, according to Osteen; and so,
Jesus emerged victoriously and crushed Satan's head with His foot. After this, Osteen says,
Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father where He offered His blood atonement for our
sins. He even teaches that this is why Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene not to touch Him
before He ascended to the Father in John 20:17. There are numerous scriptural facts, however, that directly refute what Osteen has taught at this point. In Luke 23:46, for example,
Jesus said this on the cross; He said, "...'Father INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT";
and in John 19:30, we are told that Jesus said this just before He committed His soul into
the care of His heavenly Father; He said, "It is finished!" This is the Greek word "Tetelestai"
which is a present, passive, participle. This literally means that our atonement was completed on the cross, and that the results are permanent and abiding. In Colossians 2:15, we are
also told that Jesus “…disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle
of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (NIV)(Not in Hell – at the Cross); and in
Hebrews 2:14, we are told that “…through (His) death…(Jesus)…render(ed) powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,…” My point is this. Jesus’ Victory over Satan and death did not take place in Hell; It took place on the Cross; That is when and where Jesus made an atonement for our sins, and that is when and where Jesus gained the victory for us.
Teaching something other than this is not only unbiblical it is also heretical.
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2) Joyce Meyer
Her teaching about Jesus’ atonement is identical to that of Joel Osteen. She,
like Osteen, teaches that our atonement came only after Jesus spent three days
in Hell doing battle with the Devil (Where do they get that from? It isn't Biblical). Like
Osteen, Joyce is also a Word of Faith Teacher; she said, and I quote...
“Words are containers for power. They carry creative or destructive power,
positive or negative power. And so we need to be speaking right things over
our lives and about our futures if we expect good things to happen. Because
what you say today you'll probably end up having tomorrow."
The words we speak, in other words, will create our future realities. Joyce also
teaches that Jesus was the first "born again man," and that we are "god's" with a
little "g". She said, and I quote...
“If you as a human being have a baby, you call it a human kind. If cattle have
another cattle, they call it cattle-kind. I mean, what’s God supposed to call us?
Doesn’t the Bible say that we were created in His image? Now, you understand
that I’m not saying you are God with a capital “G” so Don’t go trying to stone
me or yell blaspheme at me”
Joyce seems to know that she is on tenuous ground, so, she makes some
distinction between us and Christ by calling us "gods" with a little "g," but she
is clearly in error when she calls Jesus the first "born again man" since Jesus
is described as the only begotten Son of God. Her teaching in this regard also
falls closely in line with other Word of Faith Preachers like Kenneth Copeland
“God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself…He was
not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God
Creflo Dollar has said that we are "gods," because we came from God, and Benny
Hinn has described himself as "a little Messiah walking around on this earth." It is
interesting that this goes beyond even what Mormons can find to be acceptable.
For you see, Mormons teach that someday one can become a "God" but not that
they already are a "God."
The way to produce wealth, according to Joyce Meyer, comes from our ability
to make positive confessions about wealth. This is why on August 21st, 2008 she
said this on her television program; she said, and I quote...
“I got fire in my belly tonight, because I know! I know! I know! That there’s
power and life in right words. That words are containers for power, and I
don’t care about what kind of mess you got, I am begging you tonight to stop
talking about it, and start talking about what the Word says, and what you
can have. Make yourself a list, do some work, do some homework, make sure
you got a scripture to back up every one of your confessions. We’re not talking
about magical goofy, you know, weird New Age thing. I’m talking about doing
what the Bible says, calling those things that be not as though they are,
prophesying to the dead, dry bones in your life. Oh, you dry bones hear the
word of the Lord. Maybe you need to get your checkbook out and say, ‘Oh you
checkbook hear the word of the Lord, you are not going to stay empty all
of your life.’ Ah, somebody says this is just too weird for me, well then just
stay broke. What you're doing is not working! You listen to me checkbook,
the first ten percent of everything that goes into you is going to God's work,
and you are going to be full to overflowing! And I am going to be blessed,
and I am going to be a blessing.”
She is very similiar to Osteen. Our sins were atoned for, not on the cross, but in
Hell. We have the ability, according to Joyce Meyer, to speak things into being that
did not formerly exist, a proof-text of Romans 4:17. We are little "gods" according
to her; and if we're not happy with our financial status, we just need to pull our
checkbook out and start talking positively to it. Personally, I think someone who
does that has some rooms to rent upstairs. Or, as I heard one man put it, a person
like that isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. Or, better yet, I like what Jed Clampitt
said to Jethro Bodine one time, "Jethro," Jed said, "If brains was lard you wouldn't