Shall We Write Off Kenneth E Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E W Kenyon?, Part 3
by Karl Kemp
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We continue here in Part 3 where we stopped in Part 2, in the middle of a long paragraph that started with a quotation from Dave Hunt's "Occult Invasion."
See D. R. McConnell, "A Different Gospel" on Kenyon's interaction with metaphysical religion. McConnell "did his graduate work at Oral Roberts University in theological and historical studies." You can learn from McConnell's book, but I don't agree with all of his conclusions regarding Kenneth Hagin or E. W. Kenyon. I believe the three books by Joe McIntyre, Dale Simmons, and Robert Bowman, which are all discussed in this paper, suffice to show that McConnell has overstated the extent to which Kenyon was influenced by the metaphysical religions.]] Kenyon's teaching about 'the power of words' and his warnings never to make a 'negative confession' [[Hunt has an endnote: "Kenyon and Gossett, 'Confession,' pages 120-36, 152-55, 182-85, etc." I don't agree with everything that Gossett and Kenyon said on these pages, but essentially everything they said on these pages is centered in God and on thinking and speaking in agreement with His Word.]] deeply influenced Hagin and many others who are recognized as leaders of this movement. Kenyon also taught that man is a little god 'in God's class' [[We will discuss these words later in this paper; Kenyon greatly overstated the status of born-again Christians in some of his writings, even as he greatly overstated the status of Adam before the fall.]] and therefore can use the same faith-force that God does. [[Hunt has an endnote: "E. W. Kenyon, "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne?" (Kenyon, 1945, 5th ed.), pp. 62, 173-75. We will discuss this last sentence from Hunt and the cross-reference to Kenyon later in this paper. Kenyon made a serious mistake with his teaching that born-again Christians can use the same faith-force that God does. For one thing, the Bible doesn't speak of God having a "faith-force," or creative-faith, or faith.]] We allegedly create our own reality with the words of our mouths: 'What I confess; I possess' [Hunt has an endnote: "E. W. Kenyon, 'The Hidden Man: An Unveiling of the Subconscious Mind' (Kenyon, 1970), p. 98."]." If these words ("What I confess; I possess") are disconnected from a God-centered, Bible-centered faith, where we are making it a top priority to live for God and give Him all the glory, they could easily be understood in an occult sense. As I have mentioned, I am afraid that some people in, or on the edges of, the faith movement are using an occult faith. As I have also mentioned, I am confident that Hagin was solidly grounded in a God-centered, Bible-centered faith, not an occult faith.
Hagin learned about faith for healing, and the faith of Christians in general, from the Lord Jesus (mostly by the Holy Spirit) teaching him what the Bible says on the topic. After he was healed by God through faith (he knew that he was healed by the Lord Jesus, and God the Father who sent Him, not by some universal "law of faith") and had learned more about faith through the Word and other experiences, he says (and I believe it) that God commissioned him to teach faith. Essentially none, if any, of that early teaching had any input from Kenyon, or anybody else, with any ideas that were not Biblical.
It is clear that Hagin's later teaching was influenced by the teaching of others (especially the teaching of Kenyon; it is clear that Hagin respected Kenyon's teaching on faith, healing, etc.) in many of the details. I suppose the primary factor that led to the similarity of the details of Hagin's teaching with others was the fact that Hagin had a photographic memory after he became a born-again Christian. After being healed and going back to high school, he found that he could read a chapter of a history book and then quote the chapter word for word. He could quote large parts of the Bible without having tried to memorize any verses.
This could be a great blessing, but it led to problems for Hagin. It is clear that sometimes Hagin would quote extensively from others in some of his sermons/teachings. (I heard him say on an old audio recording that he often quoted others in his sermons/teachings. His motive was simply to bless the people he was ministering to with the best he could provide.) This probably would not have resulted in any serious problems if it were not for the fact that the editors of many of Hagin's earlier books transcribed the words from the recordings without realizing that much of that material had originally been quoted from others.
I'm confident that this happened to a significant extent, and I am rather confident that some, if not most, of the places where Hagin's writings sound quite different than what he typically taught (and are often wrong), came to be written that way. I'll give some key examples from Hagin's writings as we continue with this paper.
Hagin's popular booklet, "The Authority of the Believer" (32 pages; original edition), was taken essentially word for word from audio tapes of Hagin's earlier teaching. (I had copies [two seven-inch reel-to-reel tape recordings] of the recordings that were made during a meeting in 1963 where Hagin was teaching on that topic. Most of the book was essentially word-for-word the same as the recordings.) D. R. McConnell ("A Different Gospel" [Hendrickson Publishers, 1988], page 69) points out that "as much as 75% [of that book] was taken from a series of articles published in 1932 by John A. MacMillan under the same title...." It is clear, I believe, that Hagin quoted extensively from MacMillan in those 1963 teachings. (I later got a copy of McMillan's booklet too.) It is beyond the scope of this paper for me to interact much with McConnell's book. For one thing, I decided during the course of writing this paper that I am not especially interested in discussing where Kenyon got his wrong ideas (the topic is complicated and controversial). However, as I have mentioned, I am quite sure that McConnell overstated Kenyon's involvement with metaphysical religions.
It is clear, I believe, that Hagin quoted extensively from Kenyon after he began to read his writings, and that some (much) of that material ended up in Hagin's books. It is interesting that there is an article on Kenyon's "Gospel Publishing Society" site, titled "Plagiarism of E. W. Kenyon by Kenneth E. Hagin?" I'll quote a small part of this article. "In his book, 'A Different Gospel,' D. R. McConnell goes to some length to show that Kenneth Hagin plagiarized the writings of E. W. Kenyon. Some have contacted the office of Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society quite irritated about the situation. So what is our response? ...
First of all, it must be noted that Kenneth Hagin, to the best of my knowledge does not actually write his books. What I mean by this is that his books are for the most part transcriptions of his speaking ministry. ... Hagin has noted that he has an almost photographic memory. Reading or hearing something once was all that was necessary for him to recall it verbatim. ... We consider Kenneth E. Hagin to be a great man of God. ... Kenyon is probably delighted that Kenneth E. Hagin has been so successful in getting the message of faith, so dear to Kenyon's heart, out to so many in the world of this generation. ...." (I should point out that McConnell's book was very critical of Hagin AND Kenyon.)
3. I read (with some skimming) several of Hagin's books to see how much of his teaching about faith could fit in the category of occult faith instead of Bible faith. I had read essentially all of these books before, but it had been a long time; I started reading his literature and listening to his recordings in 1966. I followed his teaching extensively until about 1975, when I first read his teaching about Jesus dying spiritually. I don't think I have ever heard him teach on that subject on an audio recording, or on the radio, TV, or at a meeting I attended. He didn't emphasize that teaching, and he was clear on the deity of Christ (and the Trinity), but I considered that teaching to be a serious problem. I continued to follow his ministry, but with some reservation. By 1995, or so, I had backed off further since, for one thing, I learned that the doctrine that Jesus died spiritually was still being taught at Rhema. Since that time I haven't purchased any more of his books or teaching tapes or read his monthly magazine "The Word of Faith," but I still have significant respect for his ministry, and I still listen to his audio recordings, not that I agree with everything he says. (I probably have had something like 200 of his audio recordings.)
The first book I chose to read was Hagin's 126 page book "I Believe in Visions" (1972, 126 pages). I didn't find any evidence for any ideas of faith that were not totally centered in God and His Word; there is nothing about a law of faith that will work for anybody, etc. Later in this lengthy section, I'll comment on a few rather serious problems I have with a few details in Hagin's account of the vision he had when the Lord Jesus appeared to him in December 1952 (in chapter 4 of "I Believe in Visions"). The second book was the "Bible Faith Study Course" (13th printing in 1984, 127 large pages). I'll list the articles in this book: "How Faith Comes #1" and #2; "What Faith Is #1" and #s 2-4; "What It Means to Believe with the Heart #1" and #2; "How To Turn Your Faith Loose #1" and #s 2-4; "Seven Steps to the Highest Kind of Faith #1" and #s 2-4; "Six Big Hindrances to Faith"; "Confession Brings Possession"; "Actions that Correspond with Faith"; "How to Write Your Own Ticket with God"; "Doubt, Thief of God's Greater Blessing"; "You Can Have What You Say"; and "How to Train the Human Spirit." I cannot say that I agree with everything Hagin says in these articles, but they contain very little content that could (wrongly) be understood to teach an occult view of faith, and the content of this book is very much centered in God and His Word: we look to Him on the basis of His Word; we receive from Him; we believe, speak, and act in line with His Word; we give Him all the glory, etc. I'll briefly discuss the few places where some people who aren't born again, or Christians who aren't centered in God and His Word, could take off with a "faith" that isn't centered in God if they were to limit themselves to those few sentences, paragraphs, etc.
I'll quote part of a paragraph from page 88, in the chapter titled "The God Kind of Faith." "Now let us focus our attention on the statement, 'Have faith in God' [Mark 11:22]. Or, as the margin [referring to a marginal note found in some Bibles] reads, 'Have the faith of God.' Or, as Greek scholars tell us, 'Have the God kind of faith.' [[The Greek could be translated 'Have the faith of God' or be understood in the sense 'Have the God kind of faith,' and you sometimes hear that a translation like "Have the faith of God" is a more literal translation. That isn't true! There is super widespread agreement that the Greek noun for "faith" here is an OBJECTIVE genitive, meaning that it should be translated 'have faith in God,' where God is the OBJECT of the faith. You can't get any more literal than that. The KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, Amplified Bible, and the New Living Translation, for example, all have "faith in God." Our faith (Bible faith) must be centered in God and His Word. He (with His Son, the Holy Spirit, and His Word) IS WORTHY OF OUR FAITH!]] Jesus demonstrated that He had the God kind of faith. ...."
If we understand Jesus to speak of the God kind of faith (Jesus was the One speaking in Mark 11:22-25), we open the door for some to think in terms of their God-kind-of faith moving mountains, while God is passive (without any involvement of God), which is totally wrong. For one thing, IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT MARK 11:22 SPEAKS OF HAVING FAITH IN GOD, AND 11:24 SPEAKS OF PRAYING TO GOD (in faith, without doubting in our hearts). Ultimately, one way, or another, God is the One who moves mountains that need to be moved, and He must receive all the glory. We may be the ones who command the mountain, demon, etc. to move, on occasion, but when we do, we do it in the name of (by the authority of the name of Jesus) and before God the Father who hears our words. Our command in faith is nothing without the power of God backing up our words; He (one way, or another) moves the mountains that it is His will to move (in line with His Word and His assignments to us as His ministers and His born-again and adopted children).
It is clear that Hagin did not think in terms of God's being uninvolved when things take place through our faith, or fail to thank Him or give Him all the glory. ((There is an unfortunate statement in Hagin's 1974 article "The Law of Faith," which we will discuss below, where Hagin speaks of a "law of faith" that works without "any intervention of God," but that mistaken statement goes against essentially everything Hagin says about faith throughout the years, and how he lived his life, and must not be given any weight. Hagin probably picked up (and quoted) those words from someone else and he didn't stop to think what he was saying. (Most of us have done that.) And it is very significant, as we will see when we discuss that article, that Hagin only applies that supposed "law of faith" to those who have faith in the God of the Bible, and he speaks of God doing the healing.)) I have to say, however, that I have, on occasion heard faith-movement Christians speak of faith in a way that seemed to leave God out of the equation. He wasn't directly involved in the things that took place through their faith (through their creative-faith; their force of faith). They created the swimming pool in their back yard by their faith, etc. A godly Christian might say something like that - I have heard such things from godly Christians - but such comments don't give much thanks to God or glorify Him, do they? (Well, we could thank Him for making us so great through Christ that we don't need Him anymore. No, I'm not serious!) As I mentioned, all too often many of us don't think about what we are saying. And there always is the temptation (sometimes it can be a strong temptation that we are aware of; sometimes it is takes place in subtle ways that sneak around just below the level of our conscious awareness of them) to gain some glory for ourselves. Pride is at the root of sin!
I'll quote a few sentences from the last paragraph of Hagin's article, "The God Kind of Faith" (in the "Bible Faith Study Course). "There are two things to notice about the God kind of faith [I believe we should forget about the "God kind of faith"; it isn't a Biblical concept, and it lends itself to an occult view of faith]; first a man believes in his heart [It is important to know that genuine, Bible faith is of the heart], second, he believes in his words. [We must believe (have faith) in God and know that our words are in accordance with God, with His Word and His will.] ... TO GET GOD TO WORK FOR YOU [my emphasis].... [I wanted to quote these last words to demonstrate that even here (where Hagin spoke of having the God kind of faith and having faith in your words), it is clear that he was not leaving God out of the equation. Ultimately (one way, or another) God does the work, and He must receive the glory. Furthermore, it is clear that Hagin wasn't thinking of a law of (occult) faith that will work for anybody. He makes it clear in this discussion that it only born-again Christians who have this faith, for one thing.
Let's briefly discuss the article (in the "Bible Faith Study Course") titled, "Confession Brings Possession." A person could understand these words in a way that would leave God out of the equation, but Hagin clearly doesn't leave God out of the equation in this article. Hagin speaks, for example, of thanking God for the things we confess, because it is God who brings these things to pass (these things that are in alignment with His Word and His will). Our confession, in faith, before God, of things that line up with His Word and His will for us can be considered a form of prayer (we are looking to Him to bring these things to pass), and it glorifies God. Our faith glorifies God, even as the answer to our prayers glorifies Him, because it is understood that He did it. (I appreciate Rom. 4:20, "He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God" [KJV]; we glorify God by having faith in Him and His Word/promises.)
God is the One who answers our prayers; the answer (desired results) does not come because of some law of faith, or force of creative faith, or creative power that we have in ourselves. And although God's Word is alive and powerful, the combination of our faith and God's Word isn't going to move mountains by itself - we can never leave God Himself out of the equation! (We can never leave God out of any aspect of our lives!) If we leave Him out of the equation, the results may well come from the god of this world, and that will NEVER work for ultimate good.
I'll include two excerpts from the article "Actions that Correspond with Faith" (in Hagin's "Bible Faith Study Course") to further demonstrate that Hagin does not leave God out of the faith equation, far from it. "If you don't take the Word [of God] to be yours [by believing it, confessing it, praying in line with it, and acting upon it], HE DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO MAKE GOOD IN YOUR LIFE [my emphasis]" (page 98). "... The language of faith says, 'I can do all things in Him. Our Father strengthens us. I cannot be conquered and I cannot be defeated.' ... 'Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world.' You are fortified from within. ... Not only am I born of God, a partaker of His love, but I have dwelling in me the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. I HAVE GOD'S WISDOM, STRENGTH, AND ABILITY IN ME [Hagin's emphasis]. I'm learning how to let that wisdom govern my intellect. I'm letting Him govern my mind and speak through my lips. I'm daring to think God's thoughts after Him. I'm daring to say in the presence of all my old enemies, 'God is my ability' " (pages 101, 102). Statements like this that give God all the glory are typical for Hagin throughout his lengthy ministry.
For the record, Kenyon would have agreed with everything that Hagin said in the last quotation from pages 101, 102. In fact, it seems clear that much of what Hagin said here was borrowed from Kenyon (whether consciously or unconsciously), sometimes word for word, sometimes condensed, etc. See Kenyon's "Two Kinds of Faith" (1942), pages 44, 45. I just happened to note the very strong similarity when I was reading in Kenyon's book after I had quoted from Hagin in this paper. As I mentioned, Hagin had a photographic memory, and he often quoted extensively, or borrowed heavily, from Kenyon in his teachings, and many of Hagin's books were transcribed from audio recordings of his earlier teachings.
The article titled "How to Write Your Own Ticket with God" (in Hagin's "Bible Faith Study Course") could lead to presumption and other errors if not accompanied by things like humility and putting God first in every area of your life, looking to Him, living for Him (which includes obeying Him), and speaking and praying in line with His Word and will. (These things are all included in what faith in God means in the New Testament, when the word "faith" is used in a full sense. Notice how the word faith is used in Hebrews chapter 11, for example.) It is clear in Hagin's article that WE RECEIVE FROM GOD and we give Him the glory for the things He has done. We are not using some occult faith to create the things we want while God (the God of creation, the God of the Bible) is an onlooker. Every aspect of our full and eternal salvation comes by the grace of God through faith in God and His Word. He is our God through new-covenant salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit, who indwells all true Christians! (I'll comment further on Hagin's article "How to Write Your Own Ticket with God" when briefly discussing Hank Hanegraaff's "Christianity in Crisis.")
And lastly, I'll comment briefly on the article "You Can Have What You Say" in the "Bible Faith Study Course." It is obvious that these words could be understood in a way that would leave God out of the equation, but it is clear that Hagin intended these words in a context where the Christian life is totally oriented to God and His Word and His will, and for His glory. That's the way Hagin attempted to live his life, in obedience to God and His Word and His will, in truth, fellowship, and worship. He was very aware of the fact that he would have to answer to God for his life and ministry. For one thing, he had learned the hard way that there is a limit to how much God will put up with disobedience. There were at least two occasions where he was on the verge of death that God told him that he had to choose whether to repent and do what He required him to do, or to die, and there were other times that He chastened him severely for disobedience.
It is also true that we must be careful not to say things (to confess things) that go against what God has said. What happened at Kadesh in Numbers chapters 13, 14, which Hagin referred to in this article, provides a powerful illustration. The ten spies who brought back an EVIL report (that's what God called their report), who were followed by the people of Israel in rebelling against God, said that they could not take the land of Caanan (the power of those dwelling in the land was too great, they said) and they rebelled against God. Of course God never expected them to take the land of Caanan on their own, any more than He had expected them to defeat Egypt.
The people said that it would have been better to die in Egypt or in the wilderness. I'll quote Num. 14:28-30, "Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD [Yahweh]. 'Just as you have spoken in my hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you will not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun [who were the two faithful spies of the twelve who were sent to check out the land of Canaan].' " I have learned over the years that most Christians don't know what happened to the ten spies. Numbers 14:36-38 show that they "died by a plague before the LORD [Yahweh]." (On the super-important name "Yahweh," see my paper "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son.")
It is very important for us to speak in agreement with God's Word. It causes serious problems when we say we cannot do what God calls us to do, for one thing. We have a gigantic problem with Christians believing and saying we cannot stop sinning against God. To make matter worse, much worse, I have discovered that large numbers of Christians (even the majority) think the New Testament teaches that we cannot stop sinning this side of glory. How can God help us do what He has called us to do while we are believing and saying we cannot do it. We can do what He calls us to do by His sufficient grace (which includes all the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit) through faith! I'm sharing good news! And forgiveness is provided if we should sin when we sincerely repent. (See my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.")
Next I chose Kenneth Hagin's "Bible Prayer Study Course" (no date, 169 large pages) to read (sometimes skimming), looking for the kind of problems Dave Hunt was concerned about. I'll list the articles in the book: "Seven Steps to Answered Prayer #1" and #2; "The Prayer of Binding and Loosing"; "Praying in Jesus' Name"; "Praying for Results"; "Agreement in Prayer"; "7 Most Important Things in Prayer #1" and #s 2-4; "Praying with Tongues"; "The Prayer of Faith"; "The Prayer of Worship"; "United Prayer"; "The Prayer of Commitment"; "What Jesus Said About Prayer #1" and #2; "What Paul Said About Prayer #1" and #s 2, 3; "What Others Said About Prayer"; "The Will of God in Prayer #1" and #s 2, 3.
I don't believe there is anything in any of these articles where Kenneth Hagin says anything about a law of faith that will work for anybody, or of a force of faith, or of our creating by faith, etc. The faith that Hagin speaks of is a faith that is totally grounded in God and His Word. We pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus in accordance with God's Word, which includes our asking for things that are God's will for us. I only noticed one place in this book where what Hagin said could be taken out of the context in which he said it and be misused in an occult sense. I'll deal with that as we continue.
First I'll include an excerpt from the beginning of this book (on page 5) that is so typical of Hagin's emphasis when it comes to praying in faith. "Step number one is to decide what you want from God and get the scripture that definitely promises you these things. ... IF THE SCRIPTURES DON'T PROMISE YOU THESE THINGS, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY BUSINESS PRAYING FOR THEM [my emphasis]. You shouldn't want anything that the Word of God says you shouldn't have. Many are trying to pray beyond their faith. It's the Word of God that gives you faith. The reason people are not praying with confidence and faith is that they're not finding the scriptural proof. They don't know for sure if it's God's will or not. They hope it is.
Get these scriptures firmly fixed in your heart and not just in the mind. You'll have to meditate in the Word of God. Joshua 1:8 [KJV] says, 'This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.' Another translation says, 'that thou mayest be able to deal wisely in the affairs of life.' It comes about by meditation in God's Word. That's the way you'll build God's Word into your inner consciousness. You feed upon the Word. Be ready to use these scriptures against demons who will try to make you doubt God and rob you of what you want. It is the devil who tries to make you doubt God."
We will continue this study in Part 4.
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