Shall We Write Off Kenneth E Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E W Kenyon?, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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We continue "Shall We Write Off Kenneth E. Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E. W. Kenyon?" here in Part 2.
As I mentioned, when I speak of the faith movement in this paper, I am going to limit my discussion almost entirely to Kenneth E. Hagin and E. W. Kenyon (for one primary thing, I don't know much about the teaching of the other faith teachers; but I have to say that I been shocked by several things I have read, or heard, from a few of them), but I want to quote a sentence (a sentence I strongly disagree with) from what Hunt said on page 119 in "Occult Invasion": "The entire 'Faith movement' rests upon the occult belief that 'faith is a force just like electricity or gravity' [in an endnote Hunt shows that these words in single quotation marks were quoted from Kenneth Copeland in a TV interview with Paul and Jan Crouch on Feb. 5, 1986], which obeys laws and thus even non-Christians can use it."
I haven't followed Copeland's ministry hardly at all, but Hunt is leaving a wrong impression here. Copeland wrote a 32 page booklet titled "The Force of Faith," but he is talking about a force that born-again Christians have available to them, not non-Christians. As I make clear in this paper (and see my "A Paper on Faith"), I don't believe it is Biblical to speak of a "force of faith." That expression lends itself to an improper view of faith. The Bible speaks of having faith in God (and His Word). He has the "force" (power) to move the mountains that need to be moved, etc. If we could move mountains through our creative faith, or force of faith, without the direct involvement of God, He wouldn't be receiving much glory for moving the mountains. If a "Christian" is moving mountains (working miracles) with an occult faith, the devil (or a subordinate spirit in his kingdom) is the one moving the mountains (working miracles).
We'll discuss Mark 11:23, which is a verse that speaks of our commanding mountains to move, as we continue, but I'll point out here that Mark 11:22, the verse right before 11:23, demonstrates that it is our FAITH IN GOD (not our creative faith, or our force of faith; God is the One who has the power, the force) that moves mountains that need to be moved; God (the One in whom we have faith) is the One who moves the mountains, one way, or another. And Mark 11:24, the verse that follows 11:23, speaks of God's answering prayers that are prayed to Him in faith.
Galatians 5:16 is a super-important verse. I'll quote the verse from the NASB (1995 edition), which is the essentially the equivalent of the KJV, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you [most certainly] will not fulfill the [sinful] desire of the flesh." Hagin (probably following the lead of Kenyon; see the seventh paragraph that follows) substantially confuses the issue on Gal. 5:16. He said that we should change the capital "S" for the word Spirit in Gal. 5:16 to a small "s," because the apostle Paul was speaking of our born-again spirit here, not the Holy Spirit. I'm totally sure that is wrong. For one super-important thing, 2 Cor. 7:1 shows that our spirits can be defiled.
Galatians 5:16, which is extremely important, is one of the clearest statements in the New Testament that teaches that born-again Christians are called, enabled, and required to walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis, by grace through faith, in the righteousness and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin. The apostle Paul said that if we walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis by faith, we will walk with the victory over all the works of the flesh, which means the victory over all sin.
I discussed Gal. 5:16-25 verse-by-verse on pages 195-200 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." Because I consider the interpretation of this verse (and similar verses) so important, I'm going to quote the three paragraphs that I have under Gal. 5:16 in the book:
It is common for the apostle Paul (and others) to use "the flesh" to speak of fallen man (man in spiritual death, man separated from the Spirit of life). "The flesh" is not at all limited to the physical body. (The NIV has "the sinful nature instead of "the flesh" throughout Gal. 5:13-25, and often. The Amplified Bible at Gal. 5:16 defines "the flesh" as "human nature without God.") Often, as here, there is a contrast between "the Spirit" and "the flesh" (cf., e.g., John 3:3-8; 6:63; Rom. 7:5, 6; 8:1-14; Gal. 6:8; and 1 Pet. 4:1-6).
For a Christian to walk according to the flesh is to walk according to the old man, but this ought not (need not) be (cf. Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:11-13; 3:5-9). [[Many of the verses cited in the three paragraphs that I am quoting from my book are discussed in the book. I highly recommend that you obtain a copy of the book, AND STUDY IT. These things are extremely important; they are at the heart of what Christianity is all about. The book is available on my internet site or at amazon.com.]] The Christian is to be dead to the old man [this is the Christian ideal presented in the New Testament, and it is not presented as an unrealistic ideal]; he has crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). ("The flesh" and the "old man" are very similar in meaning, if not identical. We can speak of the old man being crucified with Christ [Rom. 6:6; cf. Gal. 2:20], and we can speak of crucifying the flesh [Gal. 5:24].) The old man, however, will live and manifest itself in sin to the extent that the Christian does not walk by (after) the Spirit on a continuous basis, appropriating God's grace through faith. Only the Spirit has the power to keep the old man/the flesh from manifesting itself in sin.
A primary reason why the flesh is such a formidable opponent for the Christian is that Satan and his horde of demon spirits are very active in the realm of the flesh. Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3; John 12:31; 16:11; Eph. 2:1). Fallen man could probably sin in all the ways listed in Gal. 5:19-21 without the involvement of demon spirits, but demon spirits work in each of these areas, greatly intensifying the problem. This reality makes it all the more necessary for the Christian to walk by (after) the Spirit and to not give the devil any place. Ephesians 4:27 says: "and do not give the devil an opportunity." As the margin of the NASB shows, a more literal translation would be "place" instead of "opportunity." These words of Eph. 4:27 were written by the apostle Paul in a context of exhorting Christians to walk in righteousness and holiness, having laid aside all sin. Romans 13:14 says: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts [plural of "epithumia"]."
It is a serious step in the wrong direction to shift from the all-important Holy Spirit who indwells all born-again Christians (e.g., Rom. 8:9) to our born-again spirits. I believe Hagin would agree that we must keep God the Father in the spotlight (along with the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit) and make sure that He gets all the glory. We must also understand the gospel, including the things God has provided for us, and the things He requires of us, and then do what He requires of us by His sufficient grace through faith. The New Testament puts a strong emphasis on the need for us TO WALK BY THE HOLY SPIRIT on a continuous basis by faith (cf., e.g., Gal. 5:16-25; 6:8; Rom. 8:1-17 [Romans 8:1-17 are discussed verse-by-verse on pages 116-123 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin," and other scriptural references are cited there.]).
On pages 29, 30 of "The Hidden Man" [Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1996], Kenyon says that Gal. 5:16 refers to the recreated human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. And he translates "the senses" instead of "the flesh" (see the next paragraph on this serious problem). On page 30 he says that the fruit spoken of in Gal. 5:22, 23 is the fruit of the recreated human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. On page 30 regarding Gal. 5:25; he says, " 'If we live by the spirit, let us by the spirit also walk.' That is the human spirit." The KJV and NASB, for example, rightly have a capital "S" for the word "Spirit" twice in Gal. 5:25. I believe Kenyon was making a serious mistake on Gal. 5:16, 22, 23, 25, and on many other verses. As I mentioned, it is very important to see that the apostle Paul was speaking of the need for us to walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis.
I'll quote a little more of what Kenyon said as he continued on page 30, "Romans 8:1-3 deals with the same problem. Third verse [Rom. 8:3], 'For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh (senses) [[The "flesh" doesn't refer to the senses. It refers to fallen man, man without the Holy Spirit, man in spiritual death. Man in the flesh isn't able to fully keep God's law (the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant). Romans 8:1-17 are discussed verse-by-verse on pages 116-123 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."]], God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (senses) and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh' (or senses). What sin is condemned in our flesh? It is not sin of conduct as we understand, it is sickness."
I am totally sure that Kenyon is wrong here, and it is a foundational error in one of the most important passages of the New Testament. The heart of the gospel that the apostle Paul proclaimed is that the sin which formerly reigned over us when we were in the flesh (spiritually dead, without the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life) has been condemned through the cross of the Lamb of God and has no more legal authority or power over born-again Christians.
As the apostle goes on to show in Rom. 8:4, Christians are enabled to fulfill the requirements of God's Law, which is the equivalent of saying that we walk in His righteousness and holiness in our daily lives, as we walk by the HOLY SPIRIT, by grace through faith. Kenyon, however, on page 30 says that Paul was speaking of our recreated human spirit, not the Holy Spirit, in Rom. 8:4 and that the flesh equals the senses. Then on page 31 he (wrongly) speaks (as he often does) of the "creative faith" and "dominating faith" of our born-again spirits. I must say that the more I study Kenyon, doing research for this paper, the more I have strong reservations. Two of the passages that I consider to be the most important passages in the New Testament to understand the gospel are Gal. 5:16-25 and Rom. 8:1-14.
Kenyon isn't consistent in the way he speaks of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes he rightly emphasizes our total dependence on the Holy Spirit, as the New Testament does. Other places he puts most of the emphasis on our super exalted status with our recreated human spirits, which enables us to live on terms of equality with God, to create by faith, as God does, etc. I'll say more about Kenyon's serious inconsistencies as we continue.
I'll include an excerpt from Dale Simmon's book (the book is discussed later in this paper) where he quotes from Kenyon. This is the most extreme example I know of where Kenyon way overstated the status of born-again Christians, which he frequently did (Kenyon was waxing eloquent; I think most Christians will agree that this is serious error): "So close is our identification with God that 'we become a mirror in which the Father sees Himself' [quoting from Kenyon's "New Creation Realities" (ninth edition, 1964, originally published in 1945), page 158]. Kenyon's tendency to blur the distinction between Creator and created is somewhat explicable [but seriously wrong] in light of his views on humanity's original station [in other words, in the light of Kenyon's extreme view on what Adam was like before the fall]" (quoted from page 99 of Simmon's book). We will speak a lot more about these things as we continue with this paper.
Along the same line, Kenyon was inconsistent in the ways he spoke about faith. Sometimes he (rightly) spoke of our faith in God, but he also (wrongly) often spoke of our creative faith, where we, like God, create things by our faith. On page 56 of "Two Kinds of Faith" (1942), Kenyon made the confusing statement that "faith is the result of action." (Actually action is the result of faith; we act and walk by faith.) In the next sentence he says, "Believing is taking the step up to the object, the thing that you want. Faith is having arrived." (What?) I will have more to say about Kenyon's views regarding the super exalted status of born again Christians and regarding our creative faith later in this paper.
I'll include another excerpt from page 122 of Hunt's "Occult Invasion," where Hunt makes a similar accusation: "If the power of God is a force like gravity that works according to scientific laws (as...Hagin...[and others] claim), then anyone (Christian or atheist) who follows these laws scientifically may utilize God's miraculous power. Hagin declares that even non-Christians can receive miracles by applying God's 'laws of faith.' " Hunt refers to three pages of Hagin's 1980 mini-book "Having Faith in Your Faith" to back up what he said here. I'll quote key parts of this mini-book later in this paper. (Hunt also refers to the same pages of this mini-book on pages 120 and 494.)
I had never read that mini-book, and I disagree with much that Hagin said on those three pages, but I am totally sure that Hagin didn't say all that Hunt thinks he said. For one super-important point, the rest of what Hagin said throughout this mini-book (and essentially everything else he ever said throughout his lengthy ministry) makes it clear that Hagin was speaking of the faith of born-again Christians, except for one easy-to-understand qualification, which I'll mention as we continue. Hagin did say in the three pages Hunt referred to, "It used to bother me when I'd see unsaved people getting results, but my church members not getting results. Then it dawned on me what the sinners were doing. They were cooperating with this law of God - the law of faith." I believe we should forget "the law of faith" just as we should forget "the force of faith." Neither idea is Biblical, and both lend themselves to an occult view of faith.
It would be easy to misunderstand what Hagin said here (as Hunt did), but I'm sure that Hagin was limiting what he said to people who were looking to the God of the Bible and Christianity. The examples Hagin gives in his article "The Law of Faith," which we'll discuss later, should suffice to confirm this point. Hagin was not including people who have an occult faith in a god who doesn't really exist, or an occult faith in some great human potential, or in some great Force, etc.
And I'll include another excerpt from page 355 of "Occult Invasion" where Hunt makes a similar accusation against Hagin (and the entire "Faith movement"), an accusation that I believe is seriously wrong: "Nowhere does the Bible teach that any man or woman can decree whatever he or she desires and make it happen by adherence to some universal law, by Positive Thinking or speaking it forth in a Positive Confession. That delusion, however, is shared by all occult systems, and is taught dogmatically by the Hagins...and other Positive Confession leaders."
Almost everything Hagin ever taught that I am aware of makes it clear that his teaching about faith was intended for born-again Christians who are living for God, in accordance with His Word, and that it is God who gives them the things they need and desire. As I mentioned, Hagin also understood that non-Christians who were open to the God of the Bible and Christianity could, on occasion, receive from God by faith.
I have heard Hagin say that just like Jesus mentioned that he hadn't found such faith with anyone in Israel like he found with the Gentile centurion in Matt. 8:5-13, that he, on occasion, found non-Christians quicker to receive by faith than most Christians. In most such cases the people go on to become Christians by faith. I trust that most of my readers will agree that God sometimes heals non-Christians, or answers other prayers for them, before they become Christians, and especially if He is dealing with them about become Christians.
If Hagin were to use an expression like the "law of confession," for example, he would typically be speaking of the requirement for Christians to confess God's Word, in faith, and to refrain from confessing things that don't line up with God's Word. He didn't teach about an occult law which will work for people who practice occult principles and religions. Hagin even makes it clear that a "law of confession" is not going to work for Christians who are living in sin.
I should also say that I am quite sure that some people in the faith movement have crossed the line and are practicing an occult faith to one degree, or another. People around the faith movement who aren't born again, or who are not living with God and His Word and His will being their top priority, for example, could practice an occult faith. And I have to admit that some of the faith teachers are responsible for some of this confusion. (As I demonstrate in this paper, Hagin said several things that could lead to an occult view of faith if they are isolated from the total thrust of what he taught about faith.) I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some "faith teachers" themselves may be teaching (and living) an occult faith to one degree, or another, but I am confident that Hagin does not fit in this category. It is beyond the scope of this paper for me to discuss other faith teachers (with the exception of Kenyon to some extent, because his teaching influenced Hagin and many others quite a bit). For one thing, I don't have enough information to adequately comment on other faith teachers.
On pages 118-120 of "Occult Invasion," Hunt has a section titled "Kenneth Hagin and 'Positive Confession,' " and he discussed him (and others) on pages 344, 483-497. (Also see chapters 3 and 4 of his book "Beyond Seduction.") Hunt can cite a few places in Hagin's extensive writings that make it sound like he believed that Christians, or non-Christians, can use the "law of faith" to work their will, through believing and confessing what they want. However, as I have mentioned, based on what I have read and heard and know of Hagin's life and ministry, which is a lot, his entire teaching about faith was directed to, and intended for, born again Christians (and for those who are open to the Lord Jesus Christ and Christianity) that had absolutely nothing to do with an occult faith that anybody can use, Christians or non-Christians. For Hagin, God got the glory for the things we receive, or do, by faith; God wasn't left out of the faith equation; He was right in the center of what faith is all about for Hagin, and he very much lived his Christian life in rather constant communion with God.
A significant part of Hagin's ministry, along with his evangelistic work and his teaching the Word of God, was devoted to ministering to those who needed healing, including physical, mental, and spiritual healing (including dealing with demon spirits), with the ministry and gifts the Lord Jesus had given him. One point was super-clear, the people who came for healing, whether Christians, or not, were required to look to the Lord Jesus Christ for healing (not to Hagin, or our creative faith, or a law of faith, etc.) and to give Him (and God the Father who sent Him) all the glory for everything that was done. For one thing, Hagin was required to make it known that he had been anointed to minister to the sick, etc. by the Lord Jesus Christ, who had appeared to him. I should also mention that Hagin was a fanatic about emphasizing the need for us (all ministers, all Christians) to be established in the Word of God. It isn't good enough to try to be established in gifts of the Spirit or experiences, even if all of the experiences come by the Holy Spirit.
Hagin picked up several wrong ideas from others over the years (especially from Kenyon) and perhaps added a few of his own; however, based on my observations, those wrong ideas typically remained very much secondary to his God-centered, Bible-centered understanding of faith and Christianity. ((Hagin picked up the serious error that Jesus died spiritually from Kenyon, but he was solid on the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, including His preexistence in the beginning with the Father (See page 28 of "The Name of Jesus" [Rhema Bible Church, 1979], for example), and he frequently spoke of the death of Christ (His blood, His cross). See my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?" on my internet site. Based on what I have seen, Hagin didn't emphasize that doctrine (I had a footnote: Hagin understood that the doctrine was controversial. For one thing, Hagin was very good friends with, and had very significant respect for the ministry, of J. R. Goodwin (including his teaching ministry) and his wife, who were Assembly of God ministers, starting in 1938. Mel Montgomery informed me in an e-mail that Hagin understood that the Goodwins rejected that teaching of Kenyon.), but it was taught at Rhema and has done a lot of damage. Not only is that a serious doctrinal error, but it also had the effect of turning off multitudes of Christians from all the good things Hagin had to give to the Body of Christ.)) Hagin began to minister in 1934, but he says he had never heard of Kenyon (who died in 1948) until 1950, when a brother in the Lord gave him some of Kenyon's books (see the Preface of Hagin's book "The Name of Jesus," 1979).
I am not trying to minimize the fact that Hagin did say things about faith on occasion which could result in substantial damage for those not grounded in a solid understanding of faith as it is taught in the New Testament and of new-covenant salvation. The problems were amplified when at least some of the faith teachers who got their start listening to Hagin picked up errors (errors that were not part of the faith message that the Lord Jesus had sent Hagin to preach and errors that were not foundational to Hagin's teaching about walking before God by faith and receiving from Him by faith) and they expanded on them, including, for example, the idea that we can create by faith (or the force of faith), since we have the God-kind of faith. We shouldn't be talking about creating by faith, or a force of faith, or becoming little gods, or about existing on terms of equality with God, etc., which has been done by some in the faith movement. God must receive all the glory; He must be in the center of our hearts; we must be humble before Him; we are totally dependent on Him.
I always understood that If God and His Word (rightly divided) is not at the very heart of what we are doing, we could very well tap into an occult power. The devil has always been willing to do things for those who turn their eyes from God and His Word (His word rightly divided) and look for power, success, healing, or anything else. I believe the temptation to tap into occult power was what enticed Eve in the Garden of Eden. (See my paper on Genesis chapters 1-3.) Occult power perfectly fits what the pride of man is looking for (and we all have the potential to yield to pride), and the devil can be very subtle and make his poison look, and taste, good for a while, but it kills.
It is very clear to me that Hagin did not learn faith from Kenyon, which you often hear from his critics (see the following paragraph for example). He learned to walk by faith and to receive from God by faith, based on what the Bible says (very much including verses like Mark 11:22-25). Most of this started when he was 16 years old (he became bedfast four months before he became 16 in 1933; he became a born-again Christian through a powerful experience the first day he became bedfast; he had been raised in a Southern Baptist church); he was on his death bed, waiting to die. Every doctor who had examined him said there was nothing the medical profession could do to heal his very serious organic heart problems and other problems; he had to die, and rather soon.
I'll quote a paragraph from pages 118, 119 of Hunt's "Occult Invasion." "Kenneth Hagin's gospel can be traced back to the writings of E. W. Kenyon, who first taught 'the positive confession of the Word of God' [[Hunt has an endnote: "E. W. Kenyon and Don Gossett, 'The Positive Confession of the Word of God' (Custom Graphics, 1981), pages 133-37, 152-55." As I make it clear in this paper, I don't believe that the heart of Hagin's teaching on faith came from Kenyon, but his teaching was supplemented (substantially supplemented) by Kenyon's teaching, sometimes with positive effects, but sometimes with negative effects. (I can't think of anything that Hagin learned from Kenyon that he needed to fulfill his assigned ministry, but I can think of quite a few things that he learned from Kenyon that were wrong, some of them seriously wrong.) Also, I trust my readers will agree that it is good to confess the Word of God, and wrong to confess things that go against the Word of God or things that insult God one way or another. I don't believe Kenyon said any more than this in the pages Hunt referred to here. ((I had an endnote: I'll include two short excerpts from Kenyon's "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" (1945, page 157) to demonstrate that Kenyon often (rightly) spoke of God's direct involvement in bringing things to pass in response to our confession of His Word. "If we confess our freedom, that the Son has made us free [John 8:31-36], God makes that confession a reality." "When we confess His Word, He watches over it to make it good, but there is no action on the part of God without our confession." I wouldn't say that God never acts apart from our confession, but it is important for us to believe/have faith in, and to speak in line with, God's Word. And I'll include an excerpt from page 189 that (rightly) emphasizes our dependence on God and His Son and puts them in the center of what takes place in our lives, "It makes no difference how difficult the problem may look to us we have One seated at the Right Hand of God the Father who ever lives to make intercession for us." And although Kenyon sometimes put the emphasis on our exalted status of living on terms of equality with God and our creative faith, etc. (which is serious error), he often said things like the following: "Phil. 2:13, 'For it is God who is at work within me, willing and working his own good pleasure.' ... It is the most thrilling fact this side of heaven. We are united with God in Christ. ... He said, 'Lo, I am with you always.' He is there to bless you, strengthen, to empower, to give wisdom until our whole being swings in rhythm to His will. He has not left us without authority. ... Our call is to go empowered with His power, filled with Himself, our lips with His words upon them" (pages 172, 173).))]] and must be recognized as the real founder of today's Positive confession movement. Kenyon studied at the Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, a hotbed of the emerging New Thought philosophy. [[Hunt has an endnote: John Coffee and Richard L. Wentworth, "A Century of Eloquence: The History of Emerson College, 1890-1980" (Alternative Publications, 1982)."
We will continue this study in Part 3.
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