Shall We Write Off Kenneth E Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E W Kenyon?, Part 8
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this study here in Part 8 where we stopped in Part 7.
2 Peter 1:3, 4 speak of born-again Christians becoming "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." We don't want to overstate what this means. It clearly doesn't mean, for example, that we become deity in any sense (or partake of the essence or substance of what deity means), and it doesn't mean that we can stand in the presence of God in terms of equality, or that we have creative faith, etc. We will worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit forever, but we will have the great privilege of reigning with God forever from the time we are glorified (cf., e.g., Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 5:10; 12:5; 20:6; and 22:5). Significantly, Rev. 22:3, 5 show that we will be reigning forever in the eternal state that follows the millennial kingdom as "bond-servants" of God, not as "little gods," and not on terms of equality with God, not even after we are glorified.
Based on what I have read of Kenyon, typically he was speaking to, and about, born-again Christians, but as I'll demonstrate in the following section, Kenyon did leave room for a non-Christian to "develop his spirit until it becomes a force in him." In context he was apparently speaking of a creative force (faith) that could be cultivated to produce miraculous results in "Christian Science, Unity, Spiritualism and other psychological religions." Kenyon seems to demonstrate here (as he often did) that he didn't have an adequate understanding of faith, including a Christian's faith in God. THE FORCE IS IN GOD (INCLUDING THE INFINITE SPIRIT OF GOD), NOT IN OUR SPIRITS!
9. I'll include another brief excerpt from page 64 of Hunt's "Beyond Seduction" ((This excerpt is important in that it seems to demonstrate that Kenyon, even though he didn't emphasize this point (based on my limited knowledge of Kenyon, his entire emphasis was to teach, encourage, and exhort Christians to walk in the full salvation provided for them in Christ Jesus by walking in obedience to God's Word), he believed that non-Christians can develop their spirits to bring about miraculous results. If I understand what Kenyon said, he didn't see the miraculous things that happen there being caused by the intervention or power of God, or of demons (although he acknowledged that demons could be involved some of the time), but by the human spirit. [[I had a footnote: I'll quote a few sentences from Dale Simmon's "E. W. Kenyon and the Postbellum Pursuit of Peace, Power, and Plenty" (The Scarecrow Press, 1997). (I'll quote further from this book in a separate section later in this paper.) "Kenyon readily acknowledged the presence of the miraculous in Spiritualism, New Thought, Christian Science, and Theosophy. ... ...Kenyon had always maintained that the greatest forces in the universe were spiritual. For this reason, he could accept that the 'miracles' performed by Christian Scientists, and others, were the result of the development of their unregenerate human spirits.... [Simmons had a footnote: "E. W. Kenyon, 'Advanced Bible Course,' page 183. Kenyon did not discount the possibility that other spirits could assist individuals in performing 'prodigious and miraculous things.' In[d]eed, he especially suspected the Spiritualists' miracles of being the product of a demon-possessed and controlled human spirit' (293)."] This human spirit, thought Kenyon, was capable of tremendous development both before and after it was re-created [Kenyon put all the emphasis on the recreated human spirit of born-again Christians], and, thus, mind over matter (or, perhaps, human spirit over matter) was possible. ..." (pages 243, 244).
To further demonstrate that Kenyon sometimes spoke (in an inconsistent way) of the enablement of the indwelling Spirit of God, later on this page Simmons quoted from Kenyon's "Success," "Reality I" (September 1903), page 66. He included the words, "utter dependence on the Holy Spirit."]])):
"Kenyon even acknowledged that Mind Science cults could utilize these 'spiritual laws' [[I should point out that Kenyon doesn't mention "spiritual laws" in these references, but these references suffice to demonstrate that Kenyon did acknowledge that non-Christians could "cultivate" their spirits to accomplish results that could be called creative-faith results. I believe Kenyon was making a serious mistake here and seriously confuses the issue.]] 'Natural man can develop his spirit until it becomes a force in him. We see this in Christian Science, Unity, Spiritualism and other psychological religions. This is the natural, unregenerated human spirit being cultivated. (I supplied the last sentence of Kenyon's paragraph, which Hunt had not included; taken from Kenyon's "The Hidden Man: An Unveiling of the Subconscious Mind" [Kenyon, Hunt referred to the 1970 edition; I used the 1998 edition], page 26.)
I'll quote the next three short paragraphs that Kenyon has here. "The human spirit is naturally very religious, because it is God-hungry. It is the mother of all human religions.
Christianity is God's answer to the hunger of the human heart.
Every human religion attempts to answer this hunger and fails."
Of first importance, we must understand that any creative faith that a person who is associated with the religions Kenyon mentioned here have nothing to do with Bible faith (faith that is based on the God of the Bible, salvation through repentance and faith in God's new-covenant plan of salvation through the atoning death of His Son, etc.) The religions Kenyon mentioned don't believe (have faith) in the God of the Bible or His plan of salvation. Christian Science, for example, doesn't believe that sin, evil, the devil, or heaven and hell really exist. They are illusions. And they certainly don't believe in salvation through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in the deity of Christ. Christian Science and the Unity Church, for example, do use the Bible selectively, but with their own interpretations
These religions, which Kenyon called "human religions," have strong demonic inputs, very much including doctrines of demons. "Spiritualism," for example, centers in communing with the spirits of the dead, a practice forbidden in the Word of God. You cannot commune with demons spirits (who are part of the kingdom of Satan) impersonating those who have died and also commune with God. Kenyon understands that demons are involved in spiritualism, as the footnote I incorporated into the text a few paragraphs earlier and a later excerpt will show, but the primary point I want to make here (in agreement with Hunt) is that I believe Kenyon is making a serious mistake to say that the human spirit has the potential to "become a force in him," a creative force that can heal or bring about other miracles apart from active involvement of God or the devil and his hosts. (Psychosomatic healings, for example, are not miracles.) And, of course, Christians cannot be open to receive miracles from the kingdom of the devil. God considers that to be spiritual adultery, and full scale rebellion.
I suppose Kenyon's error about the potential for the human spirit to "become a force" builds on his very much exaggerated understanding of God's creation of Adam to begin with. (I dealt with this error in my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?") I'll quote a few sentences from Kenyon's "The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption" (Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1969) ((This book and "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" are two of the primary places where Kenyon taught the very wrong doctrine that Jesus died spiritually, that He took on the nature of the devil, suffered in hell for three days, and was then justified and born again, as we are, but that topic frequently comes up in his other writings and is foundational in his presentation of the gospel. Kenyon's view of Christ (at least Kenyon's view of Christ that Kenyon sometimes presented), the Son of God, was too low (which, for one thing, led to his having room to see Jesus die spiritually, to take on the nature of the devil, etc), and his view of Adam (before the fall) was way too high.)): "We conclude that man [Kenyon was speaking of man as he was created by God] is primarily a spirit being, CREATED TO WALK WITH THE FATHER-GOD ON HIS LEVEL [my emphasis]" (page 19). "MAN WAS CREATED AS NEARLY LIKE THE FATHER-GOD AS WAS POSSIBLE. Man was to be God's companion and under-ruler. [The fact that the Bible speaks of man's being created in the image of God doesn't mean that "man was created as nearly like the Father-God as was possible." Not at all! And we don't want to forget the cherubim, seraphim, Michael, Gabriel, etc.] HIS DOMINION REACHED TO THE UTMOST STAR AND PLANET. HIS DOMINION WAS AS FAR-REACHING AS CHRIST'S RULE SHALL BE WHEN HE SHALL TAKE OVER THE DOMINION OF THE UNIVERSE. [What!] HEBREWS 2:5-8 IS A REVELATION OF ADAM'S DOMINION. ... HEBREWS 2:9 SHOWS THAT THE LOST DOMINION OF ADAM HAS BEEN GIVEN TO CHRIST [This says far too much for Adam and far too little for Christ.], BY VIRTUE OF HIS SACRIFICE ON MAN'S BEHALF. HEBREWS 1:3 GIVES TO US A SUGGESTION AS TO THE WAY ADAM RULED GOD'S CREATION. [What! For Kenyon to refer to Heb. 1:3, WHICH SPEAKS OF THE DEITY OF CHRIST, to give us a suggestion as to the way Adam ruled God's creation is quite inappropriate, to say the least. I'll quote the first part of Heb. 1:3: "And He [the Lord Jesus] is the radiance of His [God the Father's] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. ...."] ADAM RULED CREATION BY HIS WORD. HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE VOICE OF HIS CREATOR IN ITS DOMINION OVER CREATION" [What!] (pages 20, 21). (I put much of this quotation in capital letters for emphasis.) The Bible doesn't back up what Kenyon says here! This is serious error! I believe Hagin would reject much of what Kenyon says here. Would that he had rejected, totally rejected, the very wrong idea that Jesus died spiritually, took on the nature of the devil, etc.
Now back to page 26 of "The Hidden Man." Having informed us that the natural man can cultivate his spirit to accomplish miraculous things, Kenyon (who certainly takes the fall of man through Adam very seriously) says, "Natural man's spirit is dominated largely by evil. Men have used it to gain the mastery over others for their own ends.
Then there are demonized spirits, men who are controlled by evil spirits. Oftentimes they perform prodigies, miracles, it seems.
The scriptures speak of this type: 'Necromancy, spiritualists, and mediums.' They are all demonized spirits. [[I'm thankful that Kenyon acknowledges that these things are demonic, but I don't know why he listed spiritualism above as a place where a non-Christian "can develop his spirit until it becomes a force in him." The primary point I want to make here, and I'm confident that Hunt and Hagin would agree, is that none of the miraculous things (miracles) that take place in non-Christian religions are caused by the cultivated human spirit, but by demon spirits. God could work an occasional miracle there for His own purposes as He deals with people, calling them to salvation.]]
Often their minds have no part in what they say. Demons speak through their lips independent of Sense Knowledge.
These men can become deeply spiritual and become deep in the things of Satan."
Kenyon then goes on to discuss "the third kind of Spirituality," dealing, as he almost always did, with born again Christians. I'll quote the first two short paragraphs that Kenyon has here: "The third kind of spirituality is that of the New Creation spirit, for a man becomes a New Creation by receiving the Life and nature of God.
The Holy Spirit makes His home in the physical body and dominates the human spirit that has been recreated. As this is cultured and developed through the Word, there is no limit to its possibilities." Sometimes, like here, Kenyon included the all-important role of the Holy Spirit in the life of born-again Christians. Other places (frequently it seems) he puts all the emphasis on the born-again Christians themselves, who dwell in the presence of God "on terms equal [of equality] to God," "on His level," "without any sense of inferiority," and who create by faith like God does. I don't believe that teaching lines up with the Bible at all, and it certainly doesn't promote a necessary attitude of humility before God.
10. Hunt has another important quotation from Hagin on pages 344 of "Occult Invasion," under the heading "Ye Shall Be as Gods," in the chapter "Playing God: The Lust for Power." The quotation is from Hagin's 63 page book, "Zoe: The God Kind of Life" (Rhema Bible Church, first printed 1981 and still in print now, July 2013, pages 35, 36). For some reason chapter 4 (pages 35-53), "Ruling and Reigning in Union with God," of this book is different than what Hagin typically says, even as chapter 1 of "Having Faith in Your Faith" is different. It is quite possible (or highly probable) that some of the material in chapter 4 was transcribed from an audio recording of a teaching where Hagin was quoting, or heavily borrowing, from someone else (or something like that).
First I'll include the excerpt from Hagin that Hunt has on page 344: "God has made us...in the same class of being that He is Himself. ... God took something of Himself...and put it into man. Man was master. Man lived on terms equal to [of equality with] God.... This is the end of the weakness message!" (The ellipses are Hunts.)
I'll comment on these words as we continue, but it will be helpful to quote quite a bit more from pages 34-36 than Hunt quoted. Hagin (or whoever he was quoting, or borrowing heavily from; even if he was quoting someone else Hagin is responsible for what was published under his name) started this chapter by quoting Rom. 5:17 (KJV). I'll start there, and I will be making comments in brackets as we continue. (Romans chapter 5, a very important chapter, is discussed verse-by-verse in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.")
" 'For if by one man's offense [Adam's offense/transgression] death reigned by one [Adam]; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.' What does this verse mean? It means that every one of us who has been born again and has received the life of God has come into a kingly state. [Note that Hagin is speaking only of born-again Christians here.] We are accepted by God to reign as kings in the realm of life. [[Hagin interpreted this verse to say that we reign as kings now. (I have heard him emphasize this point in audio recordings.) I don't believe that the apostle Paul included that idea here. The New Testament frequently mentions that we will begin to reign with Christ when we are glorified, but we don't reign now. And although the Lord Jesus has all authority on the earth now, He is waiting for the Father's time for Him to return and begin to reign on the earth. Then He will bring divine order to the earth through judgment.
Paul's point here was that, now that we are born-again Christians, we are no longer reigned over by sin, spiritual death, and Satan's kingdom of darkness. Those enemies have lost the authority they have had over us since the fall of man in Adam and Eve, which is a really big deal. We have the authority and power (by grace) to be what God wants us to be, and to do the things He has called us to do, including walking with the victory over sin in the righteousness and holiness of God, casting out demons, and taking the gospel to the world.]] ...
[Man] was made to reign as a king under God. That kingly being was created in the image and likeness of God. HE WAS CREATED ON TERMS OF EQUALITY WITH GOD, AND HE COULD STAND IN GOD'S PRESENCE WITHOUT ANY CONSCIOUSNESS OF INFERIORITY [my emphasis]. [[I strongly disagree with much of what Hagin says here and in what follows. (But I want to emphasize the point that, based on what I know of Hagin, this doesn't sound like him.) Being created in the image of God is one thing; speaking of being "on terms of equality with God" is something else. And it surely goes too far to speak of standing in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority. We stand in awe of God and we worship Him, now and forever. He gives us the right to dwell in His presence, but we are very much inferior (subordinate) to God). Some of the quotations I have given from Kenyon earlier in this paper, and some I will include as we continue, demonstrate that Hagin could have been quoting, or borrowing heavily from, Kenyon here.]] ...
He made us in the same class of being that He is Himself. [He goes on to mention that Adam had an intellect capable of naming the animals, etc. As far as I can see that leaves a super-gigantic (we could say infinite) gap between God and man, which will continue forever.] ... He lived on terms of equality with God. [[As I mentioned, I believe this is a serious error. If you go very far with statements like this you might wonder if we are dependent on God and whether it would be proper to seriously worship Him. I believe Hagin clearly understood his serious subordination to God the Father and the Lord Jesus, and he put an emphasis on worship.]]
God is a faith God. All He had to do was simply say, 'Let there be light' (Gen. 1:3), and there was light. God created everything except man by speaking it into existence. He's a faith God. [We have already discussed the fact that the Bible, including Heb. 11:3, doesn't speak of God being a "faith God."]
Now, God made man a faith man, because man belongs to God's class. A faith man lives in the creative realm of God. [[As we have discussed, we are missing the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches if we speak of our creating (healing, moving mountains, etc.) by faith, but it is Biblical to speak of God creating (healing, moving mountains, etc.) in response to our prayers of faith that are consistent with His Word and will. And the same principle applies when we speak (in faith) to a mountain (or a demon) that needs to be moved (as in Mark 11:23) in the name of Jesus. God (one way, or another) moves mountains (and demons) that need to be moved in response to our words/commands of faith (we never command God). If we start thinking in terms of us moving mountains (or demons) based on who (and what) we are (even if we give God the glory for giving us the ability to move mountains etc.), we are missing what the Bible teaches in a serious way, and we may well end up with an occult faith. Man never did, and we do not, and we never will, live "on terms of equality with God," for one thing!]] This is the end of the weakness message!" Hagin (or whoever he was quoting, or borrowing heavily from) applied these words to born-again Christians, because even though Adam fell, "through the new birth [God] has bestowed upon us the lost authority we had in the Garden of Eden" (page 40 of "Zoe"). As I point out in this paper, Kenyon greatly overstated the authority and status that Adam had before the fall.
I'll quote two paragraphs from page 40 of Hagin's book, "Zoe: The God Kind of Life": "Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation. [It is clear, I believe, that Hagin got this very wrong idea from Kenyon, but thankfully it was not a foundational idea for Hagin's overall teaching.] They do not know they are as much sons and daughters of God as Jesus. [It is true that we become sons of God, but in a totally different sense than Jesus, who always was the Son of God, which included His being deity (God) with God the Father and God the Spirit.] ... Jesus was first divine, and then He was human. So He was in the flesh a divine-human being. I was first human and so were you, but I was born of God, and so I became a human-divine being! [No, being born again does not make us "divine"!] God is living in us!" Yes, but that doesn't make us "divine." For one thing, and I'm confident that Hagin would agree, we will worship the Lord Jesus forever (along with God the Father and God the Spirit), but we will not be worshipped.
From everything I know about Kenneth Hagin, his life, and essentially all of his teaching, demonstrate that he clearly understood his serious subordination to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The relationship and experiences he had with the Lord Jesus (including his being seriously chastened and corrected many times) were sufficient, in themselves, to convince Hagin of his serious subordination. (I really don't know about Kenyon. He says some things that indicate he understood his subordination, but he frequently seriously overstates Adam's status before the fall and the status of born-again Christians. It is necessary to understand, and to emphasize, that we will always be very much subordinate to God [God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit].) Being born-again Christians who are destined to be glorified and even to reign with Christ is very different than becoming deity (divine) in any sense, or being on terms of equality with God, or being able to create (with our creative faith/force of faith) like God does, etc.
I also disagree with much that Hagin (or the person he was quoting, or borrowing heavily from) says as he continues with this long chapter. I'll give two examples. (This book, "Zoe: The God-Kind of Life" [1981 edition, is still in print now, July 2013].) Both of these examples fit the idea that Hagin was quoting, or borrowing heavily, from somebody. At the bottom of page 36, and on page 37, Hagin mentions that man lost his dominion in the fall and that man has yearned to regain his lost dominion. "This...desire to gain the lost dominion is seen in his offering, IN HIS DRINKING BLOOD [my emphasis] and in the priesthoods he has appointed. ...
They would take an animal or another man, and make a sacrifice upon the altar of their god or gods. And when they did, they believed that the offering became identified with God. [There is a gigantic difference between their offering becoming identified with their god or gods (to the extent that happened) and becoming identified with the God of the Bible. It certainly wasn't true that the old covenant sacrificial offerings became identified with God.] They said, 'If we drink the blood of the man or the animal, we drink the blood of God. And if we drink enough of it, we'll be God.' [[No person who believes in the God of the Bible would think in terms of drinking His blood, and they certainly wouldn't think of becoming God through drinking enough of His blood. It's true that some who worship in Satanic/demonic/occult religions drink the blood of the sacrificed victims because they are required to by their gods/controlling spirits to do it, and they are looking for occult power, but the God of the Bible forbade His worshippers even eating meat with the blood in it, not to mention drinking blood (see Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26; 17:11; and Deut. 12:23; cf. Psalm 16:4). The next sentence shocked me when I read it. I have a very hard time picturing Hagin saying this. Anyway, he is responsible for what is written in his book.]]
ACTUALLY, THAT'S NOT TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THE COMMUNION TABLE [my emphasis]. ...."
Chapter 1 of Kenyon's mini-book "The Blood Covenant" (Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1969) has some important similarities with what I have just quoted from Hagin's book. (It is quite possible that Hagin was quoting, or heavily borrowing from, an earlier version of Kenyon's writings. I'll quote part of what Kenyon said in chapter 1. "For years I was convinced that there was something in the Lord's Table that I did not understand. ... 'Then, there was placed in my hands a book by Dr. H. Clay Trumbull, the old editor of the Sunday School Times, in which he showed there had been a Blood Covenant practiced by all primitive peoples from time immemorial. He proved that this Blood Covenant was the basis of all primitive religions. He gave data from all parts of the world showing that even to this day, in Africa, India, China, Borneo, and even the islands of the Seas, MEN ARE PRACTICING A BLOOD COVENANT VERY SIMILAR TO THE LORD'S TABLE [my emphasis]. It was degenerated, but never-the-less, it had the marks of an original revelation from God." Again I am shocked to hear that pagans drinking blood, etc. has anything in common with the Lord's Table, much less "is very similar to the Lord's Table."
Kenyon also discussed this topic on pages 154, 155 of "The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption" (1969). He quoted four paragraphs from Trumbull's book there. I won't quote any of that, but I'll quote one sentence from what Kenyon said there: "Every primitive people have drunk the blood of sacrificial victims in seeking oneness with God."
I spent some time skimming through the 390 page book that Kenyon mentioned by H. Clay Trumbull, The Blood Covenant: A Primitive Rite and its Bearing on Scripture" (published in 1893). I cannot recommend the book. Trumbull speaks a lot about people drinking the blood of humans and animals for various reasons (typically there was no mention of a sacrificial offering that had anything to do with sin), but I fail to see any reasonable similarity with the Lord's Table. Most of that drinking of blood (including cannibals) was purely pagan/demonic in origin and has nothing in common with Christianity.
The Lord's Table is all about the One Atoning Sacrifice of the Lamb of God that established the new covenant in the blood of the Lamb that saved us. Even if I believed that we actually partake of the literal blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper, which I don't, I would still be offended by the idea that pagans drinking blood to make covenants, etc., has any reasonable correspondence with the Lord's Table.
I'll comment briefly on part of what Kenyon said on page 16, in his chapter 4 of "The Blood Covenant," "Jehovah [Yahweh] Cuts the Covenant with Abraham." Kenyon seriously confuses the issue here. He says, "...God said [to Abraham], 'Take for me,' that is as God's substitute, 'an animal and slay it.' Abraham did it. Then God said, 'My substitute has been slain, and I want you to circumcise yourself,' so that his blood will mingle with God's substitute. When that was done, God and Abraham had entered the Covenant."
There was no mention in Genesis chapter 17 that the incidental shedding of blood that took place when Abraham was circumcised was mingled with the blood of "God's substitute." In fact there wasn't any animal sacrificed at the time Abraham's circumcision took place. It is possible that Kenyon was referring to the sacrificed animals and birds of Gen. 15:9 (Gen. 15:9 mentions God's saying, "Take me an heifer..."), but that wouldn't fit at all in any way. For one thing, those sacrifices took place before Ishmael was conceived, and Abraham, Ishmael, etc. were not circumcised until Ishmael was thirteen years old. Also, it isn't reasonable to say that the blood of the animals and birds that were sacrificed in Gen. 15:9 was considered to be the blood of "God's substitute."
We continue this study in Part 9.
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