Shall We Write Off Kenneth E Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E W Kenyon?, Part 6
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with this study here in Part 6 where we stopped in Part 5.
I was part of the faith movement (almost entirely limited to the ministry of Kenneth Hagin), but I wasn't at all limited to that movement. (( (This double parenthesis continues for four paragraphs.) After working as an engineer on various space projects throughout the 60s, I quit engineering at the end of 1969 and went to seminary (Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, which is a conservative [Bible centered] Presbyterian seminary), receiving an MA in Biblical Studies, with high honors, in 1972. I had become a born-again Christian in 1964 while attending a conservative (Bible centered) Presbyterian church, and my life changed totally. Thanks be to God! I continued to be an active member of that church until 1972. I got involved with the charismatic renewal and with Hagin's ministry early in 1966.
I have learned a lot from Presbyterians (who are Calvinists), and I am thankful for them, but I never was satisfied that they hold the fully balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. For one thing, I believe the Arminians have a lot right, and that the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on many of the basics of Christianity is to be found between what the Calvinists and the Arminians teach, but I am closer to what Arminians teach. I try to listen to what all evangelical (Bible believing) Christians have to say. For one thing, I try to be open to see where I need to make corrections in what I believe. I have always used a lot of Bible commentaries, and an exhaustive Bible concordance. Learning Greek and Hebrew has been very helpful in my study of the Bible, but the most important thing I try to do is be led by the Holy Spirit in my studies, mostly by an inner witness. If we limit ourselves to OUR ability to think right we will be in trouble.
The primary topic of my studies since 1964 has always been holiness and victory over sin. The better we understand the gospel, the better we can live it, by grace, through faith. I have always put a high priority on learning the meaning of the key words used in the Bible, words like grace, faith, righteousness, holiness, redemption, repentance, and atoning sacrifices. (I have spent more than a hundred hours each on the words faith, righteousness, and holiness, for example. Christians differ substantially on the meaning of these super-important words, and on many other words of key importance.) We will never understand the meaning of verses of the Bible until we understand the meaning of the words used in the verses.
I published my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" in 1992. I have always tried to put the priority on believing, and living in line with, the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, in the righteousness and holiness of God, by His enabling grace, through faith.))
I have always tried to point out the errors in the faith movement (every error hurts), which didn't make me very popular with some of them, but we have to answer to God, don't we? At the same time I have always said that I appreciate the ministry of Kenneth Hagin, with some qualifications (I have received quite a bit of criticism for supporting his ministry too). As the years went by I had to note places where I disagreed with Hagin, and especially regarding the very wrong idea that Jesus died spiritually and all that means according to Kenyon. It was a sad day for me (about 1975) when I first became aware that Hagin was teaching that. He didn't emphasize that teaching, and I don't believe I have ever heard him teach it, and he didn't make it a test of orthodoxy. Also, he was always clear on the deity of Christ and on the Trinity.
I am thankful that I can say with total assurance that Hagin's faith and almost all of his teaching about faith was grounded in God (the God of the Bible and His Son) and the Bible (he was fanatic about trying to base everything he believed on what the Bible teaches), not in some (occult) law of faith of God that will work for anybody. I have heard him say things like "we have the God kind of faith," and "what we confess we possess" (we briefly discussed those sayings above; if we are confessing things that are God's will for us, in accordance with His Word, and thanking Him and giving Him the glory for giving us these things, there is nothing occult about that). Based on everything that I know, God Himself and His Word always was the foundation for Hagin's faith, including the way he lived.
For example, Hagin understood, and emphasized, that we are to pray (pray in faith) to God the Father in the name of Jesus. He understood that God must be thanked for everything we receive by faith. He understood that there are conditions for our receiving from God by faith. For example, he emphasized that we cannot skip Matt. 11:25 (while we rejoice in Mark 11:22-24), which says we must forgive others if we want to be forgiven and to receive from God, and he emphasized that we must walk in love and live as God requires us to live if we want to walk in the blessings of God. He emphasized that our faith must be based on God's Word, and that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). And many times I have heard him say that we cannot receive from God by faith if we are asking for things that are not His will for us. He frequently spoke of Christians giving the faith movement a bad name by going to unbiblical extremes.
One of the primary problems I have always had with the faith movement over the years is that the emphasis was almost always on receiving healing or finances. It has always seemed clear to me that the primary thing we need to emphasize is receiving and walking in the righteousness and holiness of God by grace through faith. For one thing, much of the spiritual, physical, mental and financial sickness of Christians has come because of sin. Kenneth Hagin and some other faith teachers believe that Christians can and should walk with the victory over sin, but they seem to assume (wrongly assume from my point of view) that most of their hearers don't have much of a sin problem. The fact that those in the faith-movement (and many others) typically define righteousness as right standing with God lends itself to the problem. See my paper "Some Comments on 'Destined to Reign' by Joseph Prince and a Discussion on the Topic of Righteousness, Holiness, and the Victory Over Sin."
4. I'll include several excerpts from "Contending for the Faith," which is chapter 3 of Dave Hunt's book "Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity" (Harvest House Publishers, 1987). "Clearly, a correct view of faith is essential to biblical Christianity. Therefore to come short or to be confused in the area of faith is a very serious matter" (page 45). "Often those who emphasize faith the most seem to be the least biblical, twisting the Scriptures to fit their peculiar ideas. ... One of the most basic errors that is accepted not only in the secular world but within the church as well is that faith is some kind of force" (page 46). "The issue is truth: What and in whom one believes determines whether faith has been misplaced or not. ... True faith rests in God's love and care, relieving us of every burden and producing 'the peace of God which passes all understanding' (Philippians 4:7)" (page 47). "There is a vast difference between believing that what I'm praying for will happen because I believe it will happen and believing that God will make it happen in response to my faith in Him. ... Many Christians mistakenly conclude that faith is a power which enables those who possess it to move mountains at command and to gain their every desire simply through a positive confession. Rather than being a power that we direct, faith is confidence in God and in what He will do. [As I mentioned, when we speak (before God) to a mountain that needs to be moved in the name of Jesus, our faith doesn't move the mountain; God does, and He must receive the glory.] ... Nor can I believe that I will receive what I pray for unless I know that it is God's will and that I am in a relationship of purity and obedience that will allow Him to bless me in this way (1 John 3:22; 5:14, 15). ... The deadly error that faith is a force to tap into and use is widely disseminated not only in secular media such as the Star Wars film series, but surprisingly over Christian radio and television and in books and magazines. ..." (pages 48, 49).
"Faith is indeed preached, but nearly always as a power for gaining health and wealth and personal blessing. The faith that has moral content - that demands holiness and obedience and produces peace and joy - is all too often neglected. [We must emphasize the fact that we are enabled (by grace) to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God and to obey Him through faith. This is a big part of what new-covenant salvation through the atoning death of the Lamb of God, and by the indwelling Righteous and Holy Spirit, is all about.] And although the Word is emphasized, it is often twisted and abused by those who claim to be its chief proponents" (page 50).
"While the leaders of Positive Confession seem to be sincere Christians and at times preach a clear biblical gospel, there can be no doubt that their errors are extremely serious and could be fatal - if not for them, then certainly for some of their followers who take what they say to its logical conclusion. They [Some] have a wrong view of faith: Instead of trust in God as its object, it is a metaphysical force. ... They [some] have a wrong view of man: He is a little god in God's class who has the same powers as God and can use the same force of faith by obedience to the same laws that God also must obey. ... (page 53).
Hebrews 11:3 says, 'By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God,' but the faith teachers turn this declaration around to say, 'We understand that it was by faith that God framed the worlds.' By that simple twist, faith is not man's belief in God and what He has revealed, but a force that God used to make the universe and that man can also use by following the same 'law of faith.' Attention is subtly turned from God to faith and the results are devastating. ..." (pages 55, 56).
And I'll include one last excerpt from this chapter. "The most heretical element involved is the teaching that the power of belief is a universal force that works for anyone who follows 'the law of faith' " (page 56).
For the record, I agree with much (or most) of what Hunt says in this chapter. I had been saying most of these things more than ten years before this book was published. I had to face these things because I was involved with Hagin's ministry to a significant extent. However (as we discuss in this paper), I don't believe Hagin believed that "belief [faith] is a universal force that works for anyone." (As I mentioned, I don't know much about the other faith teachers, but I do know that almost everything I have read of Kenyon's teaching about faith dealt with born-again Christians, and did not apply to those who were not born-again Christians. I am confident that the same thing is true for many other faith teachers.) For one thing, the faith that Hagin typically spoke of was faith in God (the God of the Bible) and in His Word, and I don't believe he ever excluded God from the things that come to pass through faith. Bible faith and occult faith are two totally different things. We discuss this important point other places in this paper too.
I'll give an example of occult faith: I remember overhearing two men speaking in a restaurant several years back. They were speaking loud, wanting to be overheard. The one man was boasting to the other man what he had done through his (occult) faith. He had been driving down the road when a young driver shot past him. He cursed that young man and rejoiced when a little further down the road the young man was on the side of the road with his engine on fire. That had nothing to do with God's universal "law of faith" that will work for anybody. That had to do with tapping into the occult power of Satan, which is very real. If our "faith" is getting results for us and our lives are not submitted (in Bible faith) to God, His Son, His Word, and His new-covenant plan of salvation, the results aren't coming from God, or His supposed universal "law of faith." Unbelievers can, of course, cry out to God (the God of the Bible) for help: That isn't an occult faith. God helped all of us before we submitted in faith to His Son and His new-covenant plan of salvation.
5. Some Excerpts from Dave Hunt's "Occult Invasion" where He Calls Kenneth Hagin a False Prophet, etc., and seems to write him off. (I'll include some two pages of comments before giving the excerpts from Hunt.) Apparently it seemed obvious to Hunt that Hagin is a false prophet, etc., but that is a serious charge to make, and I don't believe the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Christian church, agrees with that charge. The fact that Hunt was able to point to a few places where Hagin made comments that would fit an occult view of faith certainly doesn't suffice to show that Hagin had an occult view of faith. As far as I can see, Hunt only gives one reference in "Occult Invasion" to Hagin's writings where Hagin says he believes in a law of faith that will work for anybody. We will discuss that reference as we continue, but (although I don't agree with much that Hagin said on those few pages in his mini-book titled "Have Faith in Your Faith"), I don't agree with Hunt that Hagin was speaking of a universal "law of faith" (an occult faith) that will work for anybody, whether they have faith in the God of the Bible and His Word, or not. In his earlier book "Beyond Seduction," Hunt also mentions two other articles (in Hagin's monthly periodical, "The Word of Faith"), where he thinks Hagin was speaking of an occult law of faith that anybody can use. I was able to get a copy of one of those articles ("The Law of Faith" in the November, 1974 issue of "The Word of Faith"). We will discuss that article below, but, although I strongly disagree with one statement that Hagin made in that article, I don't believe Hagin believed in, or spoke of, an occult law of faith that will work for anybody in that article. I believe Hunt misunderstood what Hagin said. ((I literally spent more than five hours over a period that lasted something like 6 weeks trying to get a copy of the other article mentioned by Hunt, "The Secret of Faith," supposedly in the March, 1968 issue of "The Word of Faith." I finally discovered that there was no March, 1968 issue, and I haven't been able to find what issue that article was in, including my contacting Rhema, the publisher of the article. It is interesting that I have found quite a few other books and articles that have that same wrong reference. It is clear that they included a reference to that article without getting a copy of the article or reading it.))
One of the primary points I want to make in this paper is that I believe Hunt seriously misunderstood the foundation and heart of Hagin's faith teaching. Hagin had some errors (one of them the very serious error that Jesus died spiritually, took on the nature of the devil, etc., which he picked up from Kenyon), and we need to point out errors, but we must be very cautious about writing off other Christians. (Most Christian ministers can point to errors [sometimes what they just perceive to be errors, and sometimes legitimate errors; some of the errors are quite serious] in what others believe and teach. Take what Calvinists say about Arminian doctrine and what Arminians say about Calvinistic doctrine for an example. There are major differences on foundational issues. I haven't heard it very often, but I have heard both Calvinists and Arminians deny that the other ones were saved - they wrote them off.)
See my paper "Some Comments on 'Destined to Reign' by Joseph Prince and a Discussion on the Topic of Righteousness, Holiness, and the Victory Over Sin" for an example of what seems to me to be some obvious errors by a very popular charismatic minister, Joseph Prince. On pages 5-7 of that paper I briefly dealt with the topic, once saved, always saved? As I mentioned there, although I am sure that that doctrine is wrong and is contradicted by a rather large number of passages in the New Testament (see my paper "Once Saved Always Saved?"), I am not troubled much by Christians holding that doctrine as long as they don't abuse it. In a footnote on page 6 of the paper that deals with the book by Joseph Prince, I give an example of a very popular Christian minister of our day (a minister that I have a lot of respect and appreciation for) who substantially abuses that doctrine. I'll include that lengthy footnote here:
I'll give an example of what I mean by abusing the doctrine that Christians cannot lose their salvation from the book of one of the most respected Bible teachers in the world today. I respect him and typically agree with what he teaches, but certainly not on this topic. I was shocked (and having seen and heard some of the things I have seen and heard the past 45 years around Christianity it is hard to shock me) when I read several things that Charles Stanley said in his book "Eternal Security" (published by Thomas Nelson in 1990).
I'll give a few brief excerpts. "If abandoning the faith [he means Christians stop having faith in Christ and the gospel] or falling into sin short-circuits [terminates] salvation, I have the ability to demonstrate unconditional love to a greater extent than God. If there is a condition [including the conditions that we must continue to have faith in Christ and the gospel and to live for God] - even one - attached to God's willingness to maintain a relationship with His children, it is not unconditional" (page 5). [We cannot earn God's love, but there are conditions for remaining in a new-covenant relationship with Him.] "Can God declare me 'guilty' after He has already declared me 'not guilty'?" (page 28). "If Christ took upon Himself every single one of your sins, what is going to cause God to reverse His verdict of not guilty? [God cannot allow unbelieving rebels to have a place in heaven, and they wouldn't want to be there on God's terms.] Hallelujah, not a thing!" (page 29). "The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand" (page 72). "Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved - only an act of faith" (page 77). "Forgiveness or salvation is applied at the moment of faith. ... And its permanence is not contingent upon the permanence of faith" (page 78). And (also on page 78), "You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord. Notice how Paul ends this passage: 'It [our salvation] is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast' (Eph. 2:8-9)."
I'll add the following words to that footnote: Most Calvinists (Calvinists emphasize God's role in our salvation, and they don't believe that those elected by God can fail to come to salvation, or fail to persevere in salvation to the end) don't agree with the extreme idea that Christians can abandon their faith in Christ and/or live for the devil and continue in that state until the end and be saved. They believe that true Christians (the elect) WILL PERSEVERE in faith to the end. That's a gigantic difference from what Stanley is saying. He is seriously abusing the idea of once saved, always saved and, for one thing, effectively neutralizing all of the powerful warnings in the New Testament that Christians must repent or lose their salvation. See my paper "Once Saved, Always Saved?" for many clear examples.
What seems so clear to us isn't always so clear to God, and I am totally sure that He doesn't appreciate our writing off a minister (or any Christian) that He hasn't written off. If we err, we should err on the side of being generous. We certainly want God to be generous with us when He judges us, don't we? It's no wonder that so many people strongly reacted to some of Hunt's books.
Some Excerpts from Dave Hunt's "Occult Invasion" where He Calls Kenneth Hagin a False Prophet, etc., and seems to write him off:
"Tragically, the...Hagins...[and others] convince themselves and others that the supposed miracles they perform are proof that they belong to Christ. Will some of today's charismatic leaders be among those who will say, 'Lord, Lord, did we not...' and to whom the Lord will reply, 'I never knew you; depart from Me [DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS].' If not, then [them] who? ..." (page 484). That's strong language!
"... The charismatic movement in particular follows after men and women who speak perverse things and promise signs and wonders, among them Kenneth Hagin.... ... But the occult power manifest through false prophets causes their followers to overlook all else" (page 488). And that's very strong language!
"Today's false prophets boast of their power and use it to threaten those who would reprove them with God's Word. ... In one of the many visions of Jesus which Kenneth Hagin has received, he was told ('The Lord said to me') that there would be ministers who rejected him as a prophet who, as a result, would 'fall dead in the pulpit.' They should have been falling like flies, for there are thousands of ministers who have rejected Hagin's message."
Hunt misrepresented what Hagin says the Lord told him, and the context in which He told him that. Hunt referred to the book, "I Believe in Visions" (Fleming H. Revell, 1972), page 115. I'll quote what the Lord Jesus said to Hagin, and the context in which He said it. "The Lord said to me, 'If I give you a message for an individual, a church, or a pastor, and they don't accept it, you will not be responsible. They will be responsible. There will be ministers who don't accept it and will fall dead in the pulpit.'
I say this with reluctance, but this actually happened in one place where I preached. Two weeks from the day that I closed the meeting, the pastor fell dead in the pulpit. When I left that church I left crying. I told the pastor in the next church where I went to hold a meeting, 'That man will fall dead in the pulpit.' And just a very short time after that he did. Why? Because he didn't accept the message that God gave me to give him from the Holy Spirit." This wasn't an example of Hagin threatening all the ministers who rejected his ministry. Hagin was at this particular church to hold a meeting (undoubtedly having been sent by God), and the pastor rejected the message that God gave him through Hagin (which undoubtedly included a call to repent). That's quite different from what Hunt said here. And Hunt totally misrepresented the attitude of Hagin. Hagin put a priority on walking in love, and he certainly didn't rejoice when this pastor died in his pulpit. Hagin wasn't the type of person who would try to intimidate Christians to submit to his ministry, or else, but Hunt, and others, have accused him of that.
6. On pages 120, 122, and 494 of "Occult Invasion" Hunt refers to Hagin's mini-book titled "Having Faith in Your Faith." This is a very important reference that we must discuss. (It will be helpful for you to reread eight paragraphs of this paper, starting with the paragraph on page 13 of the original version of this paper that starts with the words "I'll include another excerpt from page 122 of Hunt's "Occult Invasion.") I'll quote part of what Hunt says on page 122 under the heading "Spiritual 'Science.' " "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 follow 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' (and he refers to "Having Faith in Your Faith" [Rhema Bible Church, 1980], pages 3-5). This is a small (five and one-half inch by three and one-half inch) 32 page mini-book. The first chapter is titled, "Have Faith in Your Faith"; it covers pages 1-5. I had never seen this booklet, which is out of print, but I was able to borrow a copy through the Inter-Library Loan.
I have to admit that I am somewhat shocked by chapter 1. It is so different than essentially all of Hagin's writings (or audio recordings) that I have read (or heard). ((This chapter, or part of this chapter, may well have been taken (by an editor on Hagin's staff) from an audio recording of Hagin's teaching of an earlier meeting, and Hagin may have been quoting from another minister's teaching in that earlier meeting (as he often did), but he is responsible for what was published in this mini-book. It is also possible that an editor on staff made some input to this article, for one reason, or another. Hagin's editors may have had a lot of authority, people like Buddy Harrison, his son in law, and Billye Brim.))
I don't agree with hardly anything that Hagin said in this short chapter, and I very strongly disagree with the part that I'll quote here, but (and this is very important) I am totally confident that Hunt misunderstands Hagin and, for one thing, he has a different meaning than Hagin does for the "law of faith." I'm totally confident that Hagin was not leaving room for an occult faith that will work for anybody, in accordance with a "universal law of faith" that God supposedly set up. The faith Hagin is speaking about is faith in God, the God of the Bible, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the most part Hagin is speaking of the faith of born-again Christians, but he leaves room for a person who hasn't become a born-again Christian yet to receive some things from God (the God of the Bible) by looking to Him for help, for healing, for example.
I believe the examples that Hagin gives in his article "The Law of Faith" ((which Hunt refers to on page 64 of "Beyond Seduction" to supposedly demonstrate that Hagin taught "that anyone [meaning that you don't have to believe in the existence of, or be committed to, the God of the Bible; just have faith in your idea of God, or skip that and just have faith in a universal law that is built into the fabric of the universe, or just have faith in the fact that we are all gods, or have faith in your faith, etc.] can develop these universal 'laws of faith' to get what he wants")) effectively demonstrate that Hagin limited the faith he was speaking about to those who are looking to the God of the Bible. We will discuss that article ("The Law of Faith") in the next section of this paper.
We will continue this discussion in Part 7.
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