Monday, February 13, 2006

A Response to Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) regarding the Word-Faith Movement

This is in response to Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) who has posted comments in my article Refutation of City Harvest's "Divine Healing" Article (Part 2).

Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
I think you represent the submarine aspect of the church that Pst [Kong Hee] was talking about which is so deep into theology (they can't wake up), theology that even God dosen't know about & once in a while would emerge with their binoculars to view the world as evil & condemns them to hell!
Perhaps you care to clearly define the “theology that even God doesn’t know about?” If what you say is accurate, that Kong Hee vilifies Bible-believing Christians, then I do have an additional concern about the extra-biblical teachings that are being taught in City Harvest.

To be “deep in theology” is to revere the Word of God. I do not see how any practicing Christian could despise the Scriptures when it is plain that the Word of God is meant to guide our lives.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
On Charismatics and the Word-Faith Movement
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
Btw, most Pentecostal & Charismatic churches believe in Divine Healing regardless of which denomination they may come from, be they A/G, Church of S'pore or the Foursquare Gospel & not only limited to the Word-Faith Movement & I distinctively remembered your 'headline' being in this article refuting our Divine Healing Article published. So you are not only going against our Church but also the millions of Pentecostals/Charismatics worldwide who share the same tenents of precious like-faith.
Actually, I would say we do believe in the sovereignty of God; that God is able to heal wherever and whenever He pleases. Because God cannot contradict Himself, divine healing must be conformed to the biblical pattern found in the Word of God.

The teachings found in the word-faith movement with respect to health and wealth is regarded as aberrant by many Charismatics and Pentecostals. Many Charismatics and Pentecostals believe in divine healing, but not according to the way the word-faith camp defines it. Having been involved in the charismatic movement for 15 years, I should know. I do have friends in charismatic circles, and many of them too do not believe in the deviant teachings found in the word-faith movement.

The Watchman Fellowship, which describes itself as a ministry of Christian discernment, has this to say about those in the word-faith camp:
They typically shift the issue, claiming that those who are opposing them are anti-charismatic (cessationists, believing that the miraculous gifts have ceased). This misinformation or red herring is designed to lead their followers to automatically dismiss anything word-faith critics say.

To set the record straight, the staff of Watchman Fellowship is multi-denominational, as are most of the critics of the word-faith movement. Watchman's staff is comprised of Baptists, Presbyterians, Assemblies of God members, etc. Our staff knows that God does heal and does the miraculous.

Most of Watchman's staff believe in the continuance of the miraculous gifts for today. Biblically, all Christians are charismatics in that all Christians possess spiritual gifts.
Well-known charismatic David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church wrote,
I am meeting Christians throughout our nation whose faith is shipwrecked because they are disillusioned and hurt. They came upon a "faith" teaching that made them believe that getting every desire of the heart depended simply on getting their formulas correct. They were challenged to launch out in God for prosperity, perfect health, and whatever else their minds could conceive. "Conceive, then believe," they were told. They were urged to blot out of their thinking all thoughts of suffering, pain, poverty - or anything negative. They were carried along by the testimonies of those around them who were getting new cars, homes, jobs, fur coats, diamond rings - whatever their hearts desired - all through positive faith.
George Wood, the General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, observes that there are three basic faulty assumptions controlling the "positive confession" theology.

First, that God wills perfect health, total healing, and complete prosperity for every believer. Second, that God has obligated Himself to heal every sickness and to financially prosper those who have faith. Third, any failure is not the fault of God, but is caused by a lack of faith or sin in the individual's life.

Wood commented in Mountain Movers, July 1988,
[These teachers] have missed the Bible in three ways: They twist particular verses out of their plain meaning; they refuse to deal with Scriptures which plainly have different meanings than those of the `positive confession;' and they fail to let the Bible speak for itself.
John Piper, a staunch “seven point Calvinist,” who wrote “after 20 years of Bible study and friendships with charismatic believers I will say with even more assurance: Let us not reject or despise any of God's gifts, including tongues” has this to say about the word-faith movement:
God can and does heal the sick now in answer to our prayers. But not always. The miracle mongers of our day who guarantee that Jesus wants you well now and heap guilt after guilt on the back of God's people asserting that the only thing between them and health is unbelief have failed to understand the nature of God's purposes in this fallen age. They have minimized the depth of sin and the cruciality of God's purifying chastening and the value of faith through suffering and they are guilty of trying to force into this age what God has reserved for the next.
On “Winning” the World to Christ
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
…its just that we feel we have a whole world to win over to Christ (as preached over the weekend) & not just sit down & engage in a never-ending shallow 'fight' & splitting theological hairs with you which would not edify us @ all…
What does it mean by “a world to win over to Christ?” If you are referring to the Great Commission, we are specifically told to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The phrase “make disciples” is matheteuo in Greek. It means “to become a pupil; transitively, to disciple, i.e. enrol as scholar:--be disciple, instruct, teach.”

We are to teach the truth. It is written, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). How do we know the truth then? By studying the Word of God. It is written,
And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:15
We are to be disciples by studying the Word of God. We are “to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses can claim that they are trying to “win” the world over to Christ. But are their gospels the same as the true biblical gospel found in the Word of God? Most absolutely not.

Plainly speaking, by engaging in this discussion with you, I am fulfilling the Great Commission, which calls us to make disciples – disciples who are expected to be grounded in the Word of God.

On Theology and the Word of God
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
…held captive by theology & a set of methodology to play the Holy Spirit in your life!
If the phrase “held captive by theology & a set of methodology” means I am held captive by the Word of God, then I am proud to be numbered among Christians, which includes the apostles, the Reformers and all the Christians who were and are willing to give up their lives for the sake of the Word of God.

Martin Luther once said,
Unless I am thus convinced, I am bound by the texts of the Bible, my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I neither can nor will recant anything, since it is neither right nor safe to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” according to Romans 10:17. If the word-faith teachings are at odds with the Word of God, then how can the message preached by the word-faith adherents be true then? Wouldn’t the word-faith movement be guilty of preaching a false gospel and a false Christ?

Do read the book of Galatians. The Galatians certainly do believe in Jesus Christ. However, it is plain to see that the “minor” theological doctrine the Apostle Paul was “splitting theological hairs” over with them was of utmost importance to the gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! – Galatians 1:6-9
Thus, theology is important. Soteriology shapes evangelistic methodology. A sound doctrine of salvation would produce a sound practice of evangelism. If you do not understand the Word of God, then how can you preach the gospel correctly, much less attempt to “win the world to Christ?”

Theology and the Christian faith cannot exist apart. By saying “I believe in the Holy Trinity” is adopting a theology. “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” is also a theology. It is absurd to act as though theology is a burden to the Christian faith. The study of theology is an act of worship. We study theology so that we are able to discern false teachings. For it is written:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. – 2 Peter 2:1
How does one recognize “destructive heresies?” By engaging in the theological study of the Word of God. True disciples of Jesus Christ test all teachings by going back to the Word of God.

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