Posts Tagged ‘Word Of Faith Movement’

imageImage via KellyLawlessThrough a CC License

I am guilty of being a little intellectually lazy. I tend to have my best ruminations after reading either a book, or a blog, listening to a sermon by my pastor, or maybe after listening to a podcast. It could be an argument I haven’t heard before, or a term I’m not familiar with, or a thought I vehemently disagree with. I’m always more stimulated by other minds than I am my own. Perhaps it’s because I’m always in my own mind, and I know how boring or thin it can be.

Whatever the cause, I take seriously the Great commandment:

Mark 12:28-30 ESV

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Loving The Lord with all our minds has been largely ignored by present and recent generations. It took the horrible consequences of belief in the aberrant Word of Faith Movement to spur my own entry into God-loving with my mind. We live in an anti-intellectual culture. You would think today’s humanity would be skeptically burnt out on false worldviews, especially the cynical Millenials; but, alas, skepticism seems to be a non-sequetor, except for the truth claims of Christianity. Then it’s Katie-bar-the-door.

I am by nature skeptical as of lately; although I haven’t always been. My foray into the “name-it-and-claim-it” club forced me to critically-examine my belief system.

Through God’s Grace, I turned to the Reformers for help. Their conflict with the Roman Catholic Magisterium and rediscovery of the 5 Solas [“Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory)] gave me a great foundation to be able to claw my way out of a false belief system. I am now chronically allergic to what I call “terminal goofiness” when it comes to theology.

What about you? Have you examined your own beliefs with a critical eye?

Don’t think for a minute that you can escape having your worldview challenged. It’s gonna happen. You can’t rigorously defend a minority Weltanschauung that you’ve garnered by familial osmosis, or pieced together in the mad laboratory of public opinion that you’ve grave-robbed from the cemetery of bad ideas.

God’s Word is the only foundation that will keep you from sinking sand. Biblical, historic Christianity is the only worldview that can adequately answer both the way things are in reality, and how their supposed to be.

simul justus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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When I was a full-blown Word-of-Faith-er, I hated John MacArthur. Now that I have seen the dark side of WOF, (and its unBiblical underpinnings), and the refusal of Continuationists to take a stand against the downright evil elements of the health-and-wealth gospel, I love the man with all of my heart.

I don’t agree with a total Cessationist point of view, but the simple fact is that Charismatics and Pentecostals will not exercise discipline on its own members. For that reason alone, reasonable and discerning continuationists owe Dr. MacArthur a great debt.

This reminds me so much of the call for moderate Muslims to speak out against the radicalized Islamists. Their silence, and the silence of moderate Continuationists, should remind us all that silence is the greatest of tyrannies.

Until someone in the Charismatic/Pentecostal community speaks up with the brutal honesty and integrity of Dr. John MacArthur, I’m throw in’ my stuff in the other camp’s boat, thank you very much.

Thus endeth my rant.

simul iustus et peccator, 

 
Eric Adams 
Rossville, GA 
godsguy12@comcast.net 
christianreasons@gmail.com 

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Please catch up on this series, if this is new to you. It might take a while. Hopefully, you will find it helpful. Here are the links:

Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt 5, Pt. 6

When we left off last time, we were discussing the influences on Watchman Nee. I am lingering on Rev. Nee because of his influence on my own theology, in my earlier Christian walk. Some of it has been beneficial, some of it has not been helpful at all.

I discussed the influence of The missionary Miss Barber and Roman Catholic mysticism on Rev. Nee.

Now we will turn to other influences.

I failed to mention in my critique of the mysticism connections to include a couple of 19th and 20th century writers that affected Rev. Nee.

Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis

Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927) was one such influence.

“Born on February 28th, in South Wales, Jessie was brought up in the lap of the religious surroundings of Calvinistic Methodism. Her grandfather was a preacher well known for emphasizing the building up of the believer in spiritual walk and life. It was also said, he was “the most metaphysical preacher of his day.”2

“Admittedly she owed a great deal to the books of Madame Guyon, “as having showed her the path to life ‘in God.'” Indeed! Her first response after receiving and understanding the vision and way of the Cross, and dying to self, was not an uncommon one: “No I will not go that path.” But after a brief struggle, she realized, it was the only way into the deeper spiritual life and unbroken communion with the Lord.

In her day, the “message of the Cross” was rarely preached; except in its first application to the forgiveness of sins through the Blood of the Lamb. The half-forgotten truth God ordained her to proclaim was “the Cross that breaks the power of cancelled sin.” This only occurs as the believer learns to identify with Christ, in His death to sin and the world. In learning to be “crucified with Christ,” the believer is led into a fellowship with Christ that alone enables to obey the Lord’s injunction, “take up the cross and follow Me.” It is a conformity in likeness to the Lamb.”3Madam Guyon

Notice the reference to Madame Guyon. Pay careful attention to the reference regarding a deeper spiritual life. That will become important when we discuss the Keswick movement. The main thing I want to demonstrate is the link to Roman Catholic mysticism.

Although the “Cross” is emphasized with the Higher Life advocates, the Sanctifying effects of union with Christ is stressed almost to the exclusion of the Justifying effects and the forgiveness of sins. I have a real problem with that. It is also common among Classic Wesleyans and Pentecostals to over-emphasize the more subjective aspects of Sanctification than the objective work of Christ in Justification.

Jessie Penn-Lewis had a very complex view of the Christian life. I am including a lengthy quote of Mrs. Penn-Lewis. This quote comes in an article written by Rev. Nee titled How To walk In The Spirit.

The aggressive warfare against the powers of darkness is essentially a spirit conflict, and the “natural man” knows nothing about it. It is to be understood only by spiritual men and women, hence the importance of knowing what is the meaning of the term “spiritual,” and how to walk in the spirit. We have put a capital S on the word spirit in the New Testament, where often it reads with a small s, or we have done that in the mind, by reading in the large S—referring to the Holy Spirit—in places where there should be a small s. The large S so read in by the majority of us, has hidden the fact that we have a human spirit, which is the organ for the Holy Spirit, and the place where the Holy Spirit dwells. (See “The Place of the Indwelling Spirit,” in May Overcomer.) In the shrine of that spirit comes all His divine light, and leading. Not having understood clearly about the human spirit, we have not known how to co-operate with the Holy Spirit, and when He has come into our spirits, we have thought everything He had to say to us, must be given to the mind, with the result that we have mainly walked “after the soul,” and not “after the spirit.”1

Trichotomy

bodysoulspiritOne of the problems with Rev. Nee, and many of his influences and contemporaries, including Rev. Finis Dake (mentioned in an earlier post), is the issue of Trichotomy. This would be the belief that man is tripartite, consisting of a distinct spirit, soul, and body, via 1TH 5:23, and He 4:12. I don’t have the time to go into the long history of the argument between a dichotomous view of man, against a trichotomous anthropology. What I will emphasize is Rev. Nee’s insistence that a trichotomous view is necessarily salvific.

It is an issue of supreme importance for it affects tremendously the spiritual life of a believer.”4 “To fail to distinguish between spirit and soul is fatal to spiritual maturity.”5

This is a departure from most orthodox Christian writers. Admittedly, many writers (from the AnteNicene Fathers to Calvinists) have taken a trichotomous view of man, but none have claimed it to have been necessary for salvation. This should raise a few eyebrows.

This trichotomous view occupies the very first chapter in his book The Spiritual Man.

Rev. Nee’s exposition of the Trichotomy of man is very systematic and detailed. He goes to great lengths in order to prove that man’s three parts include:

1. The spirit, which includes conscience, intuition, and fellowship (communion with the Holy Spirit).

2. The soul, which includes the mind, will, and emotions.

3. The body, which is self-explanatory.

He uses a lot of Scripture, and is very convincing. He may be correct. However, it’s his emphasis on the intuition that becomes troubling.

The spirit lies beyond man’s self-consciousness and above his sensibility. Here man communicates with God.”6 “The revelations of God and all the movements of the Holy Spirit are known to the believer through his intuition.”7 “God is not apprehended by our thoughts, feelings or intentions, for He can only be known directly in our spirits.”8

Extra-Biblical Revelation 

You can begin to understand my concern about mysticism. Here we have a systematic theology endorsing extra-Biblical Revelation. To Rev. Nee, (and subsequently and concurrently, Pentecostals and Charismatics), the boring doctrinal stuff- you know, the ordinary means of receiving Biblical illumination (hearing the Word preached, personal Bible study, reading solid Christian writers, catechism, etc.), are supplanted by personal communication in the intuition.

“If the revelations of God and the work of the Holy Spirit can only be known through his intuition, one’s personal insight is exalted above the statements of Scripture. (Dictionary definition of intuition: “knowledge or conviction gained by intuition. The power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”) Such a conclusion is both unbiblical and dangerous.”9

Gnosticism

One of the early threats to Christianity was Gnosticism. At one time it was thought to have predated Christianity, but recent scholarship indicates it arose out of Jewish mysticism, as a perversion of Christianity. The basic beliefs of Gnostics were:

1. Salvation came to those “in the know”, those with the secret gnosis (Gk. word for knowledge). It was accessed through intuition by the mystery religions through divine revelation.

2. Dualism- spirit is good, flesh or matter is bad. Spirit cannot come into contact with flesh. It needs an intermediary.

3. Jesus either only appeared to have a body, or was simply a man.

4. There is a lower class of “gods”, called demiurge a by Gnostics.

We will look more closely at the WOF similarities to Gnosticism later. Right now I want to focus on point no. 1.

“Nee’s form of Gnosticism comes through the development of a rather complicated system, with its own specific terminology,

English: A lion-faced deity found on a Gnostic...

English: A lion-faced deity found on a Gnostic gem in Bernard de Montfaucon’s L’antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

which means that the uninitiated cannot really grasp the “deep teachings” of God. The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary). His claims that the conscience is based on one’s intuition opens wide the door for being directed by a supposed inner voice from God rather than taking God’s written Word as the true basis of conscience training. The conscience is only as accurate as the training upon which it is based. development of a rather complicated system, with its own specific terminology, which means that the uninitiated cannot really grasp the “deep teachings” of God. The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary). His claims that the conscience is based on one’s intuition opens wide the door for being directed by a supposed inner voice from God rather than taking God’s written Word as the true basis of conscience training. The conscience is only as accurate as the training upon which it is based.”10

It’s this inner voice that runs counter to the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura. It is a very dangerous to believe we can access a mystical source of information independent of the ordinary means.

1. Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 01: The Christian Life and Warfare, Chapter 15, Section 1
2. http://www.lighthouselibrary.com/read.php?sel=3134&searchfor=%7C%7C&type=&what=
3. Ibid
4. Nee, Watchman. The Spiritual Man in Three Volumes. New York: Christian Fellowship Ed., 1977. Print, pg. 22.
5. Ibid, pg. 22.
6. Ibid, pg. 29.
7. Ibid, pg. 32.
8. Ibid, pg. 32.
9. Gordon Ferguson, “Watchman Nee On Soul And Spirit ,” douglasjacoby.com, Douglas Jacoby, http://www.douglasjacoby.com/watchman-nee-on-soul-spirit-by-gordon-ferguson/ (accessed 11/12/2013).
10. Ibid

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Read my previous posts in this series to catch up. See Pt.1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5.

During the summer of 1982, I had the strange occurrence of finding 2 different books by a single author, in the attics of 2 different houses. My family was a family of carpenters. My Grandad Jenkins was a carpenter (my dad’s father-in-law), my dad was a carpenter, and my brother was a carpenter.

It never fails, if you do remodeling or homebuilding, that adding insulation falls in the dog days of summer. That means 130+ deg. Temps here in the south. While cleaning out 2 different attics, I found Against the Tide by Angus I. Kinnear, and Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Née.

Watchman Nee

If you are not familiar with Watchman Née, I will give a brief bio. :

“Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world. For more details concerning Watchman Nee, please see http://www.watchmannee.org.” 1

“Watchman Nee was born in 1903 in Swatow, China as an answer to his mother’s prayer. Having already borne two daughters, she prayed that if God should give her a son, she would give him back to God. As the boy grew up, he showed every sign of promise except he had no interest in things spiritual. It was not till he was seventeen years of age that he was met by the Lord. He knew at that time that he must accept Christ Jesus as his Savior, yet he struggled over the necessity of surrendering his life to the Lord. The love of Christ finally overwhelmed him and he capitulated to Christ. This was on April 29, 1920. He had such a love for the Word of God that he studied it almost incessantly, so within a very short period he had read the whole Bible several times. He began to witness for Christ to his school mates and soon earned the nickname of “the preacher”. In searching the Scripture, he (with a few other believers) discovered ‘the simplicity and purity that is towards Christ.’ He determined to follow the Word of God explicitly and nothing but the Word.

In 1927 he began his life work in Shanghai, where he was able to practice the vision which the Lord had shown him in the Word. He understood that the eternal purpose of God is Christ and His Church. Through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit and the faithful ministry of this servant of God, this testimony spread over the vast land of China.

In 1949 the Communists took over China. Knowing what would be waiting for him back home, he nonetheless felt strongly his responsibility toward God and His Church. So he returned to China from Hong Kong in 1950. In April of 1952 he was seized and put in prison. He was later falsely accused as a master spy and was sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment. In prison he was not allowed to do anything but what was assigned him by prison authority. At the expiration of his sentence term, he was not released, and the news arrived quickly that he died faithful to the Lord.” 2

Painful

My references above are from sympathetic sources. This particular part of the series will probably be the hardest for me. Separating the wheat of a Watchman Née from his chaff has been painful. I truly love this man, and to write anything negative about his doctrine is not an easy task for me.

I learned early in my Christian walk to be a reader. Early on, I read everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately for me, my interests gravitated towards those who supported my Faith teaching worldview. Watchman Née became an obsession for me. I eventually bought every book I could find.

The Three Ladders

ladder3

It has been in my exposure to the Reformers that I learned the broken ladders that the little theologians of glory in us love to use to get to God.

Here is how most religions work: Heaven and God are far away, so we must find ways to ascend to heaven. Like the old African American spiritual says:

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
Soldiers of the cross.

Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Soldiers of the cross.

That all sounds great if you’re the typical American. We love our independence and pragmatism, don’t we?

It was the Lutheran theologian Adolph Koberle who distilled man’s attempts to ascend to God .3 He identified these three ladders as:

A. Moralism- The ladder of the will. We grab ourselves by the bootstraps, and try to work our way into God’s good graces. If you’ve ever asked or have been asked the Evangelism Explosion question “why would God allow you into heaven?”, then you have faced the question of moralism. Usually the response is “well, I’ve been a good person. I have done ________ “(you fill in the blank). How this works itself out in the Faith movement is trying to earn God’s Favor by positive confession and believing before seeing (specifically in healing or financial blessing). I’ll cover this more thoroughly in another post.

B. Mysticism- This is the ladder of the emotions. We seek for God internally through emotional or mystical experiences. We become preoccupied with our own spirituality. This is where Watchman Née comes in.

C. Speculation (Rationalism)- This is the ladder of the mind. If we can just get the perfect knowledge, that missing piece of information, then we can please God, and climb up that broken ladder. This Gnostic, and noxious idea fits in perfectly with the Word of Faith “Revelation Knowledge” teaching promoted by men like Kenneth Copeland. We will deal with this ladder later in the series.

Getting back to Rev. Née, I believe he got the Gospel right. He had a basic theology of Salvation by Grace through Faith. In The Normal Christian Life, (probably one of his more popular titles), Nee writes: “Righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and peace with God are all ours by faith, and without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ none can possess them.” His whole exposition on the Blood of Christ in this book is very orthodox, and insightful. As far as it goes, it’s theologically sound.

Mysticism

There are several streams of influences present in Rev. Nee’s theology when it comes to sanctification. One major stream is mysticism. This can be seen in his Preface to The Spiritual Man, Vol. 1:

“This book puts particular emphasis on spiritual reality. Hence, what is covered in each volume can all be attested in experience; nothing is there as an empty word.” 4

“The whole book covers a wide scope; every question concerning the spiritual life that the believers want to know but cannot answer is explained here. For example, difficult matters such as hearing God’s voice and understanding God’s will are all clearly explained. After reading this book, all major spiritual problems will be fully resolved.”5

Notice the emphasis on experience, hearing God’s voice, and understanding God’s will. All of this is standard fare for the dedicated theologian of glory. It’s an obsession with one’s spiritual life. Yet, later in the same Preface, Rev. Nee writes:

“Among the spiritually seeking believers there is always the danger of excessive subjectivity concerning one’s own spiritual experience. This is not healthy, for self-examination, the analyzing of oneself, is a means of cultivating the self-life and fills a person’s mind with vain thoughts.”6

The problem is that most of Née’s writings in The Spiritual Man, by their nature, encourage this kind of self-introspection. That is the nature of mysticism and spiritual perfectionism.

Some of the mystical influences on Rev. Nee can be deduced by references he makes.

Margaret E. Barber

One of the primary influences was a lady named Margaret E. Barber. Here is a bio. Of Miss Barber. I include an extended quote showing her influence:

“Once I invited a doctor of theology to Miss Barber’s meeting and asked that he be given the opportunity to speak, and I translated for him. After the message I asked Miss Barber, “How was it?” She said, “It was sad!” I asked her why, and she pointed to a door that was chained shut and said, “Something good, but not moving.” I was again upset by her remark. I told another brother, “This man has spoken only once. Can she possibly know all about him?” But today I know what she was talking about. Everything depends on life. If there is no life, all we have is death.

The church does not need good doctrines, good theology, or wonderful expositions. The church needs life, the resurrection life of Christ. No doctrine, idea, theology, or exposition can replace the life of Christ. Only the life of Christ and that which issues from it will prevail against the gates of Hades. Everything else is just disguised forms of death and cannot withstand the attacks of Satan. May the Lord be merciful to us, and may He keep us from touching death or bringing death into the church. May God fill the church with life, and may Satan find no opening to attack the church.”7

You can see Miss Barber’s influence by judging preaching by some sort of internalized “inner light”. There is a definite anti-intellectual slant that very much anticipates Postmodernism, and Emergent Christianity of our own day. You can see the appeal to WOF’ers; Direct Divine revelation; Very mystical.

 Roman Catholic Mystics

This Miss Barber introduced Rev. Nee to the Keswick Movement, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and the Roman Catholic mystics Madame Guyon and Fenelon. First, let’s talk about the Roman Catholic mystics.

“At the same time there was a new discovery within the Catholic Church. A group of spiritual people were raised up by the Lord. TheMadam Guyon most spiritual one among them was Miguel de Molinos, who was born in 1640 and died in 1697. He wrote a book called Spiritual Guide which taught men the way to deny themselves and die with the Lord. This book affected many people at that time. One of his contemporaries was Madame Guyon. She was born in 1648 and died in 1717. She was even more knowledgeable in the matters of the union with God’s will and the denial of the self. Her autobiography is a very good spiritual book.

In addition there was Father Fenelon who was a bishop at that time. He was very willing to suffer for the Lord, and he worked together with Madame Guyon. Through these men and women, God released many spiritual messages. At that time men and women with the deepest experience of spiritual life were found in the Catholic Church. Protestantism was only paying attention to the doctrine of justification by faith.”8

Here is a quote from Madame Guyon:

“All that is of your doing, all that comes from your life-even your most exalted prayer-must first be destroyed before union can come about. All the prayers that proceed from your mind are merely preparations for bringing you to a passive state; any and all active contemplation on your part is also just preparation for bringing you to a passive state. They are preparations. They are not the end. They are a way to the end. The end is union with God!”9

Please convince me this is not dangerously close to the eastern practice of altered-state consciousness meditation; I dare ye…

For a good overview of Madame Guyon, go here.

This post is getting long, so I will continue later.

1. http://www.amazon.com/Watchman-Nee/e/B00COAA964
2. http://www.c-f-p.com/category_s/1825.htm
3. For a good exposition of Koberle’s three ladders, see Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller’s sermon at http://www.hope-aurora.org/pages/Pent192005.html&friendly=1
4. http://www.ministrybooks.org/index.cfm
5. Ibid.
6. http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?n
7. Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 44: Conferences, Messages, and Fellowship (4), Chapter 30, Section 1
8. Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 15, Section 2
9. Madame Guyon, Experiencing Union with God Through Inner Prayers

simul iustus et peccator,

Sir Eric of Confusedland

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I am in the middle of a continuing series of posts detailing my exposure to the Faith movement. My previous posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

I will take some time here to discuss some of the positive aspects of the Charismatic Movement, from my personal point of view. Exuberant worship is a positive thing.

I understand that everything should be done decently and in order, but that doesn’t mean we should not be emotionally involved in the act of worship. There is a lot of goofiness in the broader Charismatic/Pentecostal tribe, but I’ve never seen Methodist Charismatics swinging from the light fixtures. They would be considered quite tame, compared to some of the raucous events I have attended. Their sincerity would never be questioned by me.

In my own struggles with chronic pain, I tend to be highly emotional when singing certain songs, because of the depth of meaning to me, subjectively speaking. If your worship is cold, your love for Christ may be cold, as well…or you might just be in one of those dry spells every Christian goes through. That’s the problem with emotions. They make great servants, but despicable leaders.

I think it’s great when I receive an emotional moment in a worship service, and I think it’s great when I just think through the song theologically, and quietly contemplate what my Savior has done for me. Emotional release is not our reason for worship. We can’t even really offer anything to The Lord, other than the fruit of our lips giving thanks. So worship is not even really about our own presentation of something God needs. He is self-sufficient.

One of the things I have learned from the Confessional Lutherans is that church is not about what we do for God. The worship service is about Christ stooping to serve us through His Word and Sacrament. Our singing should be primarily didactic, not therapeutic; humbly grateful, not boastful of how blessed God is with what we bring to Him. It’s not that emotional release, or strengthening of our self-image shouldn’t happen; it’s just that it becomes a by-product, a secondary benefit.

I am slowly beginning to realize what Luther meant about the theologian of glory, and the theologian of the cross. I have spent much of my life listening to theologians of glory…you know, the one who spends 30 minutes telling you how great you are. The one who tries to convince you can have what you say, if only you believe enough, and confess enough. The one who transposes Law for Gospel, and Gospel for Law.

I am now listening to theologians of the Cross…you know, the ones who preach Christ crucified, who presents the Gospel as The Lord coming to us through weakness, in human flesh, and suffering. The ones who lay the Law on you hard, fast, and continuously; and lay the Gospel on you like aloe on a sunburn.

Many of the Charismatics/Pentecostals I know truly love the Word of God. They may not actually hear it preached fully, but they love it, and that is commendable. I love their sincerity.

I also love the fact that many of them are very Evangelistic. At one Church of a God congregation I was a member of, I led a monthly outreach where we made sack lunches that we took to the homeless here in Chattanooga. I trained our folk to share their faith in Christ as we distributed the food. I had a dedicated core of people who showed love and shared the Gospel. I am grateful for those friends.

The reason I wanted to take some time to explore the more positive aspects I see in the Charismatic/Pentecostal community, is because the next few posts are not going to be as supportive.

Simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

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I am continuing to write about my involvement in the Word of Faith branch of the general Charismatic/Pentecostal side of Evangelicalism. You can read my other posts in this series here, here, and here.

Streams

I need to explain why I am taking the time to discuss at length the influences that the Word of Faith had on my Christian walk. I believe there are several polluted streams flowing into Evangelicalism today. The worst streams flow from the Word of Faith movement. Within this stream are several unsavory springs that flow outward to WOF adherents, Charismatics/Pentecostals, Seeker/Purpose Driven churches, and onward to the great Evangelical Ocean that many of us swim in.

Finis Dake

One of the main influences in the WOF movement is Rev. Finis Dake, through his Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible and book God’s Plan For Man. I am presently discussing some of the problems in his theology.

E.W. Kenyon

Another influence on the WOF movement is E.W. Kenyon. I will discuss his influence on the WOF in general, and myself, specifically. I intend to delve into the influences on Kenyon from the mind science cults through Phineas Quimby and Emerson College; as well as the influences from the Faith Cure movement through A.J. Gordon.

I am one of those crazy people who spends more time perusing the Bibliography and footnotes of a book than actually reading it. That becomes difficult in the Faith Movement, since many of them plagiarize others, and even each other, without giving credit where credit is due. However, since I have listened to so much of their teaching, I have constructed my own bibliography.

The third spring from whence so much chaos has spread in the Faith movement are the 1st generation Faith teachers themselves. These are the founts from which the craziness has made its way into main stream Evangelicalism.

Now, to return to Finis Dake.

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One of the other problems with Dake is his Christology. For instance:

“Gr. Christos, ‘Anointed.’ – Used in N.T. 577 times. Like the name “Jesus” it has no reference to deity, but to the humanity of the Son of God, who became the Christ or the “Anointed One” 30 years after He was born of Mary. God “made” Him both Lord and Christ. The Heb. Is ‘Messiah’.” 1.

Adoptionism

I am not sure if Rev. Dake was aware of it or not, but this heretical view of Christ is called Adoptionism, with its adherents being called Ebionites.

“The Adoptionist controversy is a revival of the Nestorian controversy in a modified form, and turns on the question whether Christ, as to his human nature, was the Son of God in essence, or only by adoption. Those who took the latter view were called Adoptionists. They taught that Christ as to his divinity is the true Son of God, the Only-Begotten of the Father; but as man he is his adopted Son, the First-Born of Mary. They accepted the Chalcedonian Christology of one person and two natures, but by distinguishing a natural Son of God and an adopted Son of God, they seemed to teach two persons or a double Christ, and thus to run into the Nestorian heresy.” 2

Kenotic Heresy

Another problem with Rev. Dake is his apparent belief in the Kenotic Heresy. This aberrant view revolves around Phil. 2:6-7.

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:6-7 NASB

Here is another Dake quote:

Christ emptied Himself of His authority in heaven and in earth, which was given back to Him after the resurrection.” “Christ emptied Himself of His divine attributes and outward powers that He had with the Father from eternity. He had no power to do miracles until He received the Holy Spirit in all fullness. He could do nothing of Himself in all His earthly life. He attributed all His works, doctrines, powers, etc. to the Father through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.” “Isaiah speaks of the Messiah being born without knowledge enough to know to refuse the evil and choose the good.” “Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be born without the tongue of the learned, without knowing how to speak a word in season to help any soul, and that He would be wakened day by day to increase in knowledge and wisdom.” “He did not claim the attributes of God, but only the anointing of the Spirit to do His works.” 3

This is similar to his Adoptionism view. There are several problems with over-emphasizing the emptying of Christ.

“The question regarding the kenosis comes to this — What does it mean when Scripture says Christ “emptied” Himself? Did Jesus cease to be God during His earthly ministry? Certainly not, for deity cannot stop being deity or He would never have been true deity to begin with. Rather, the “emptying” is satisfactorily explained in the subsequent words of the verse, taking note of the two participles which grammatically modify and explain the verb: He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. This emptying, in fact, was done as the man Christ Jesus, and neither of these ideas necessitates or implies the giving up of divine attributes.

Christianity maintains that Jesus did not “empty” himself of any of his divinity in the incarnation, although it is true that his divine attributes were veiled. When the Kenosis theory concludes that Jesus is or was less than God (as has been the case in the past), it is regarded as heresy.” 4

These are not insignificant deviations from Biblical orthodoxy. These are heretical views of “Biblical” proportions.

I have a couple more issues to cover before I close this post.

Little Gods

One of the biggest blunders of the Faith Movement is their belief that we are “little gods”. We will be revisiting this recurring nightmare in the discussion of other Faith teachers, but one source would have to be Rev. Dake. Here he states:

“Truly He is not only all that man, angels, and other beings are in this respect, but infinitely greater in everything; and man, in reality, is simply a miniature of God in attributes and powers.” 5

This false belief in man’s deification flows directly from his false understanding of anthropomorphic language, which I have discussed in another post. I cannot emphasize how cultic idea of man being a little god is. When you have a low view of Christ, you automatically have a high view of man.

 Anthropomorphic Language

Here is Dake’s understanding of anthropomorphic language about God:

“Anthropomorphism is the ascription of human bodily parts, attributes, and passions to God, and taking the substantiating statements of Scripture to be literal, and not figurative. In support of such teaching an appropriate question is: If God did not mean all He said about Himself in over 20,000 scriptures then why did He say such things? They certainly do not add to a true understanding of Him if the passages do not mean what they say. Furthermore, why would God, in hundreds of places, refer to Himself as having bodily parts, soul passions, and spirit faculties if He does not have them? Would it be necessary for Him to tell us He has such in order to reveal that He does not have them? Would He not be more likely to say in plain language that He does not have eyes, hands, mouth, ears, and other bodily members?” 6

One final thought. There is another belief of Dake we need to discuss.

Christology

A pervasive problem with WOF teachers is their confusion over the nature of Christ. Properly trained theologians understand church history, and the Ecumenical Creeds of the early church, and can keep from repeating the heresies that brought these Councils and Creeds together in the first place. This is not true of any of the teachers I am naming in this series. They espouse some of the same false doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Science. rev. Dake is no different. I state again, if we can’t get the nature of Christ right, how can we avoid any manner of aberrations in our theology.

Another issue Dake has is understanding the Eternal Sonship of Christ. He wrote a note in his reference Bible that says:

Gr. prototokos, Trans. firstborn (v15), It is used of Jesus the firstborn of Mary and of the firstborn of Egyptians. It means the first one born in the family. It must also be understood in this literal sense in connection with Jesus being the firstborn in God’s family. However, Sonship in this case refers to humanity and not to deity.” 7

Thus endeth my rant on Rev. Dake. Stay tuned. Same bat time…same bat channel.

1. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc, Lawrenceville, Georgia, New Testament, p. 1.
2. http://m.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/history/4_ch11.htm
3. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc, Lawrenceville, Georgia, New Testament, p. 218.
4. http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis
5. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc, Lawrenceville, Georgia, Old Testament, p. 587.
6. Ibid, pg. 547.
7. Ibid, N.T., pg. 222, column 1.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eeyore

20131105-091316.jpg

In my previous posts here, and here , I have tried to explain my involvement in the Word Of Faith Movement.

My senior year at Chattanooga Valley High School was eventful to say the least. I suppose I appeared to many as a religious nut. Perhaps in some ways I was. I carried my Bible to school, and read it, and was careful about my language. I talked about my faith as often as I could, and refused to participate in the coarse jokes common to high school. I lost some friends that year, and gained some new ones, some that would remain with me to this day. One was my companion in crime, who would eventually be my Best Man in my wedding. Jeff Lambert experienced the same Filling I had, at the same moment, in the same car, in the same Baptist church parking lot. I suppose the Lord did it that way so neither of us could deny it later. That goes especially for me, because I have been so tempted to throw the Continuationist baby out with the WOF bathwater.

By this time, my family, (which consisted of my mom, dad, brother, and myself), had been asked to leave Lookout Baptist Church. My dad was a Deacon and Sunday School teacher, my mom was a Sunday School teacher, and my brother was a Sunday School teacher. Because of the influence of WOF theology concerning tongues and healing, and our own personal experiences, my entire family reacted negatively towards one week’s Sunday School lesson that firmly denied any second blessing or baptism in the Holy Spirit. My parents contradicted the literature, and we were asked to leave the church.

I have two thoughts here (hindsight is 20/20):
1. I believe the Baptists severely over-reacted, although I can understand why now.
2. I believe my family acted imprudently, and should not have been so reactionary. Cryogenic storage would have done us all a world of good.

One trait I see so commonly among Charismatics is a smug superiority and condescension towards the uninitiated. If New Calvinists have a “caged stage”, Charismatics have a need for a “stasis pod stage”, where they need suspended animation for a couple of years.

We ended up at Fort Oglethorpe United Methodist Church, which was pastored by Joe Green. He was the standard for what I measure all pastors by. He and his wife Beth were what I now consider stable Continuationists. He taught and preached expositionally, and prayed for the sick. It didn’t hurt that Joe was mentored by the preacher that had prayed for Dad. We loved them dearly. It was at this church that I met and married the love of my life, Lisa.

It was during this time that I discovered the famous (or infamous) Dake’s Bible. For those unfamiliar, Finis Dake’s Study Bible became the standard reference for the more radical Pentecostal/Charismatic cadre.

I will list a few of the problems I have dealt with in this study Bible, after I give a brief bio. of Rev. Dake.

He was born in 1902, and died in 1987. He was evidently gifted with a photographic memory , for he could quote extensive portions of the Bible from memory. He claimed to be able to recite the whole New Testament. He also claimed his reference Bible was the result of over 10,000 hours of study. I don ‘t doubt it. The reference notes are prolific, and many are original thoughts, as far as I can tell. It has the best concordance I have ever seen in a Bible.

Dake was a bit of a strange bird. He originally was liscensed with the Assemblies of God, in IL, I believe. He got into trouble with the law there, and spent some time in jail for violating the Mann Act by willfully transporting 16-year-old Emma Barelli across the Wisconsin state line “for the purpose of debauchery and other immoral practices.” 1 His license was revoked by the AOG, and he subsequently joined, then later resigned, from the Church of God, Cleveland.

Here is a quote from his testimony:

“After three months of wholehearted surrender, I received a great anointing of the Spirit. A cool and rushing wind came over me. From the depths of my being came the “rivers of rushing water” that Jesus promised in John 7:37-39. Torrents of praise began to flow from my lips as I received in measure what the disciples had on the day of Pentecost. It was May, 1920, and I was seventeen years old.

I was immediately able to quote hundreds of Scriptures without memorizing them. I also noticed a quickening of my mind to know what chapters and books various verses were found in. Before conversion, I had not read one full chapter of the Bible. This new knowledge of Scripture was a gift to me, for which I give God the praise.

From the time of this special anointing until now, I have never had to memorize the thousands of scriptures I use in teaching. I just quote a verse when I need it, by the anointing of the Spirit.

I then began to study the Bible without ceasing, and have now spent around a hundred thousand hours digging into the wealth of its teachings.” 2

I’m a troublemaker, so I have to ask why he needed to study if he could recall Scripture at will without the need for memorization, but that is a question for another time.

There were several tools that my friend Jeff and I used in those early days: a Bible, the Strong’s Concordance, Vine ‘s Dictionary of the New Testament, and the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. I suppose the problems with the latter were offset by the fact that while my peers were busy partying and hooking up, (as they call it today), Jeff and I were beginning to form a systematic theology.

Here is a sampling of a multitude of issues I have grown to abhor in the subsequent years.

A. Dake was a proponent of an old earth genesis that was a little peculiar. He promoted a unique “gap theory”, which to me seems to be a little bizarre. The earth was originally created perfect in GE 1:1, during which time Lucifer fell, taking the perverted creatures he evidently genetically altered, (i.e. Dinosaurs and “pre-Adamites”), with him. Then God recreated the earth in GE1:2. Demons are the spirits of said pre-Adamites. Dake wrote extensive notes, and even authored a book espousing his views on creation. I have some sympathy for old earth creationism, but Dake’s is out there, my friends. Many men I respect hold to a ruin/reconstruction view of creation, and I respect their views. They are attempting to reconcile the book of Natural Revelation with the book of divine Revelation. So, while Dake’s views may not be heretical, they have some seriously imaginative “gaps” of their own.

B. The Trinity. Dake subscribed to what can only be called the heresy of Tritheism. He believed that each person of the Triune God has their own personal Spirit, Soul, and physical Body. One of the foundational understandings of the Trinity is that God is one in Substance, three in Persons. To contradict the essential unity of God, and read into the anthropomorphic language of the Bible leads to Tritheism, which is a form of polytheism, similar to the Mormon belief system, albeit limiting the gods to only three.

Here are two examples from the Dake Bible:

“He is a person with a personal spirit body, a personal soul, and a personal spirit, like that of angels and like that of man except His body is of spirit substance instead of flesh and bones.” 3

“He has a personal spirit body… shape… image and likeness of a man… He has bodily parts such as, back parts… heart… hands and fingers… mouth… lips and tongue… feet… eyes… ears… hair… head… face… arms… loins… and other bodily parts.” 4

If a person can’t get the nature of God correctly from the Scriptures, orthodox Creeds, and church history, what other problems can we find with this man’s theology? My probing of this man’s beliefs, after I blindly accepted them without taking a more “Berean” hermeneutical approach, revealed a seriously flawed understanding of classical Evangelical teaching.

I will be the first to state that penetrating the depths of the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult at best, but much confusion could be avoided with even a cursory reading of the church Fathers, Reformation theologians, and the Creeds. What we can know can be truly known. That’s the problem with being too literal with the metaphoric language in the Scriptures. By taking the attribution of a physically human form, such as hands, eyes, mouth, etc., to the nature of God, you can get the idea that God is like us, with all of our physical features, much like the Greek and Roman Pantheon of gods. Of course, by the same logic, we can deduce that God has wings, hangs on hinges as a door, is a tower , a fortress, and broods like a chicken. Take the Bible literally in the sense it was intended. Use the same common sense you use with any literature you read.

1. Chicago Daily Tribune, May 28, 1936, pg. 17.
2. http://www.dake.com/dake/truestory.html
3. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, N.T. pg. 97, note R
4. Ibid

This post is getting long, so I will continue with more problems with Finis Dake in another post.

L8r g8rs.

Simul iustus et peccator,

John Adams
(no relation to Prez #2. My line came from lesser aristocratic stock…mainly Appalachian Hillbillies-lol)