Shall We Write Off Kenneth E Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E W Kenyon?, Part 11
by Karl Kemp
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We continue here in Part 11 where we stopped at the end of Part 10. We are still under section 14: "E. W. Kenyon and His Message on Faith: the True Story" by Joe McIntyre (Charisma House, 1997, 362 pages).
McIntyre discussed A. J. Gordon's view under the heading "A. J. Gordon and Identification" on pages 201-203. He quoted from Gordon's "In Christ: The Believer's Union with His Lord" (Gould and Lincoln, 1872), pages 9-10, 50, 55. I was able to find this book on the internet. I downloaded the first 60 pages of the book.
I'll include an excerpt from Gordon's page 40, 41, "... How gratefully we turn to Christ crucified as our only true resting place for comfort! 'Let me know that I have repented enough and suffered enough,' is the voice of a faith that is still in bondage to law. The voice of faith that is free is, 'Let me hear that Christ died in the stead of sinners, of whom I am chief, that He was forsaken of God, during these fearful agonies, because He had taken my place; that ON HIS CROSS I paid the penalty of my guilt [Gordon had these words (starting with "that" and going through the word "guilt") in italics. I added the Caps for emphasis. Significantly, Gordon believed that the suffering of Christ was finished ON THE ALL IMPORTANT CROSS.]. Let me hear too that his blood cleanseth from all sin, and that I may now appear before the bar of God, not only pardoned, but innocent. ...."
I'll include an excerpt from page 46 that further demonstrates that Gordon believed Christ's suffering was finished ON THE CROSS. "Standing by the cross now, we discern in the gloom and power of darkness that gather round it, that 'outer darkness' which had been ours forever out of Christ. In that plaintive 'Eloi, Eloi' ["My God, My God"], we hear what had been our cry of despair unanswered forever, except we had been found in Him. In that dreadful rending cry which delivers up the spirit, we own the due reward of our deeds, while confessing that this man hath done nothing amiss. But now all these things are passed forever both for Him and for us, as soon as the 'It is finished' has been spoken [ON THE CROSS]. And lo! the foregleams of the resurrection break upon us. The light of a certain and triumphant hope enters our heart. Remembering that we are joined to Him who said, 'I lay down my life that I may take it again,' we cease from tears and follow Him, saying as we hasten onward, 'Now if we be dead with Him, we believe that we shall also live with Him.' " He had to die, but He had told us that He would be raised on the third day. HE WAS!
On his page 202 McIntyre quoted the following words from Gordon (page 49 in the book I downloaded; McIntyre says page 50), "[Jesus] joined to His people, that He might carry them with Him through the pains and penalties of death, He now in the same gracious partnership of being brings them up again from the dead. He spreads the mighty miracle of his own regeneration from the dead, along the whole line of history. He repeats it in every true believer." Then McIntyre says, "Gordon here spoke of the 'regeneration' of Christ and the believers' participation in it. Kenyon's critics have mercilessly rebuked him for suggesting that after having been made sin with our sin, Jesus experience a regeneration - or was 'born again.' A. J. Gordon apparently - in seeking to understand Paul's teaching on the believer's identification with Christ - came to the same conclusion."
When Gordon spoke of Jesus' "regeneration from the dead," he was referring to His resurrection (not of His being born again like we sinners are); Gordon goes on for more than a page speaking of the fact that we have been raised (resurrected spiritually) with Christ. He was the first man (though He was much more than just a man) who left death behind and was born into (resurrected into) the glory of new creation life. In Col. 1:18 and Rev. 1:5 Jesus was called the "firstborn from the dead," referring to His resurrection. Because of His resurrection, all of us who are united with Him through faith are resurrected spiritually (born-again), and at the end of this age we will be resurrected (if we have died before He returns) and born into the fullness of eternal life with Him. In Romans chapter 6, and Col. 2:12; 3:1, for example, the apostle Paul shows how we die with Christ and are buried with Him, and how we are resurrected with Him in a spiritual (new birth) sense when we become Christians. In other passages he shows how we will be resurrected (if we have died before He returns) and glorified with Him in the ultimate sense at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:11; Phil. 3:21; and Col. 3:4).
The really important point for the purpose of this paper is that Gordon was not saying, like Kenyon did, that Jesus took on the nature of the devil and needed to be justified and born again spiritually like us sinners do, or that He suffered the torments of hell for three days after He died. Gordon has already informed us that the sufferings of Christ were completed ON THE CROSS.
On his page 202, McIntyre quoted several sentences from page 55 of Gordon's book. I'll just quote the last sentence he quoted, "Opener of the prison doors to them that are bound, He yet waits till the last demand of justice has been satisfied before He comes through the gate of the grave to lead them out." And I'll quote a key sentence from what McIntyre says here: "Observe that Gordon saw Christ continuing to suffer under the punishment of our sins until the resurrection."
McIntyre has misunderstood what Gordon was saying. Gordon has already informed us that Christ's sufferings have been completed ON THE CROSS. It's true that Gordon spoke in terms of Jesus remaining among the dead for three days to fully satisfy justice (in accordance with God's plan of salvation, and in accordance with the fact that Jesus had said that He would be raised on the third day), but, significantly, he didn't speak of Jesus suffering during those three days (when He was with the believers in the Paradise compartment of Hades). Gordon knows nothing of Jesus being tormented in hell after He died, which is where Kenyon saw most of Jesus' atoning work taking place.
I'll quote some more from Gordon to further confirm this important point. "...forgiveness was fully accomplished when He had pronounced the 'It is finished' ON THE CROSS [my emphasis]. For then He had blotted out the dark score of disobedience that was against us, having nailed it to the cross. ... But the pardon thus written in his blood waited to be sealed and attested by his resurrection. For though He had spoiled principalities and powers by his death, only by bursting the bars of the grave could He 'make a show of them, openly triumphing over them in Himself.' And so, while in the blood of the dying Christ we see the title of our pardon, we wait for a luminous glance from the risen Christ to bring it out into full distinctiveness and significance. ..." (pages 51, 52).
"Opener of the prison doors to them that are bound, He yet waits till the last demand of justice has been satisfied [in Jesus' remaining among the dead for three days], before He comes through the gate of the grave to lead them out [speaking of His leading us out of our spiritual death and bondage to sin through new-covenant salvation; He also led the spirits of the believers from Old Testament days to heaven at that time (the man on the cross beside Jesus was included)]. The members [the believers who become united with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection] must be with their Head. They are his fullness, and without them He cannot be made perfect. He waits till the weary hours of their prison service [He is taking our place in hades; THIS IS VERY DIFFERENT THAN JESUS BEING TORMENTED IN HELL FOR THREE DAYS] are completed in their Surety [in Christ, Who makes our salvation sure]. He cannot accept deliverance while they are under condemnation. But when the full acquittal has been secured, the glorious promise is fulfilled, 'The third day I shall be perfected.' Aye, thou mighty Captain of our salvation, thou first Begotten from the dead, because thou wilt then have 'perfected forever them that are sanctified.'
I am aware [Gordon says] of a certain holy jealousy for the honor of the cross, that restrains some from ascribing justifying efficacy to the resurrection of Christ. But let it be marked that it is not atoning justification which we attribute to it, but 'manifesting justification,' as Edwards so exactly names it. ..." (pages 55, 56).
And McIntyre dealt with A. T. Pierson on page 203. "A good friend of Gordon's and a respected mentor for Kenyon, A. T. Pierson also wrote along these lines. While the interim pastor for Charles H. Spurgeon in London, Pierson preached a sermon titled 'The Attestation of the Son of God'; or, 'Hope Through the Resurrection.' Commenting on Acts 13:33, he said, 'the reference in the second Psalm, "This day have I begotten Thee," is to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. [Yes!] ....' It would be hard to deny that Gordon and Pierson understood Christ to have undergone some kind of new birth out of death in His resurrection. Acts 13:33 became a favorite of Kenyon's in showing Christ being 'born again.' "
There is nothing in McIntyre's excerpt from Pierson (I didn't include the entire excerpt here) to support Kenyon's idea that Jesus began to partake of the nature of Satan and needed to be justified and born again like we sinners must, or that He was tormented in hell for three days. Pierson rightly shows that Acts 13:33 informs us that the birth spoken of in Psalm 2:7 refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, where He left death behind and was born into the fullness of the eternal life of God's new creation. Jesus didn't have a need to be born again, like we do. As I mentioned Col. 1:18 and Rev. 1:5 speak of Jesus being the first born from the dead, referring to His resurrection. When we are born again, we follow Him in that birth in a spiritual sense. At the end of this age, we will follow Him in the fullness of that birth into the fullness of eternal life and glory ((cf., e.g., Rom. 8:29; Rev. 12:5 [Rev. 12:5, which is one of the most important eschatological verses in the Bible, is discussed in detail, along with all of Revelation chapters 11-13 in my book "The Mid-Week Rapture"]; also see on Psalm 2:7 in the chapter on Psalm 2 in that book; Psalm 2 is a very important eschatological psalm)).
Lastly, we'll discuss the view of Henry C. Mabie, which McIntyre discussed on pages 192-195 in his book. Mabie, who was a close personal friend of A. J. Gordon, spoke regularly for D. L. Moody. He wrote three books on the atonement. McIntyre quoted from one of these books "The Meaning and Message of the Cross" (1906); Kenyon commented in one of his sermons that Mabie "was considered one of the greatest teachers of the Bible in America," and he acknowledged reading "How Does the Death of Christ Save Us?," which was another of Mabie's three books on the atonement (published in 1908).
Having read the entire chapter of Mabie's book, "The Meaning and Message of the Cross," from which all of McIntyre's (and my) excerpts were taken, and several other chapters, I'll say, for a start, that Mabie does not agree with Kenyon that Jesus was tormented in hell for three days after His suffering on the cross, or that Jesus, having taken on the nature of the devil, needed to be justified and born again like we do.
The reason I wanted to discuss Mabie last is because he greatly emphasized the depths of the suffering experienced by Christ as He took our place. I'll include some excerpts from Mabie along this line: "That Christ experienced a spiritual anguish altogether unparalleled is found in His cry on the cross: 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' This was the high-water mark of His sorrow. ... That Christ was for the time sympathetically at least, in the place of an outcast world and partook of the sense of the abandoned before a judicial tribunal when He could say only 'My God, My God' - not 'My Father, My Father,' is most evident"; "His baptism of sorrow ON THE CROSS [my emphasis]"; "the depth of the gloom" and the "cry of despair mingled with trust"; and Mabie spoke of "the cloud [of sorrow, etc.]" that Jesus was under. However, significantly, Mabie makes it clear that Jesus came out of that cloud before He died ON THE CROSS. Notice that he spoke of the "cry of despair MINGLED WITH TRUST." Mabie made it clear that Jesus did not forsake the Father, even though He was in some ways forsaken. We'll get into the details as we continue.
When we hear the things Jesus said on the cross (including asking the Father to forgive those who crucified Him [Luke 23:34]; what He said to the repentant man who was crucified next to Him, telling him that he would be with Him in Paradise that day [Luke 23:39-43]; what He said to His mother and to the apostle John [John 19:26, 27], and the fact that He committed His spirit to God the Father just before He died, we can see that Jesus was in control of the situation and fully in His Right, Godly, mind.
I have already made it clear that I believe (in agreement with a very large number of Christians) that Jesus was separated from God the Father in a very real sense, but I don't agree with the idea (an idea that you essentially never hear) that there was any change in the nature of Christ, the Son of God, the God-man.
As I mentioned, Mabie would not agree that Christ took on the nature of Satan or that He needed to be justified and born again like we do (as Kenyon taught). I'll quote a few sentences from Mabie's pages 112-115 that make it clear that he did not believe that Jesus took on the nature of Satan: "The cross of Christ's achievement expresses an aspect of judgment in a further sense, that by the moral attitude which Christ maintained up to the last moment on His cross; He entirely set at nought the world-principle, or the Satanic philosophy devised and personalized by the devil. ... But there is a third matter with which the mediating work of Christ needed also to deal; namely, the entire realm of moral evil and with Satan its head. ... Of course, AT THE CROSS [my emphasis], the fierceness of the temptation culminated. To the last Jesus resisted. In no single instance, in no particular, did He yield to His adversary's enticement. ... In our Lord's uttermost crisis, though He was Himself forsaken of God, YET CHRIST FORSOOK HIM NOT [my emphasis]...."
I'll quote the first excerpt that McIntyre has on page 193 (from Mabie's pages 66, 67): "The term 'death' as applied to the nature of Christ's vicarious sufferings for man constituting Him the redeemer, has a meaning in the New Testament altogether unique. That death was more than mortal dying, although mortal dying was linked with it. This would seem to be morally requisite, if a man is to be saved from his real woes. The sentence which was pronounced upon the race at its fall in Eden, was something more than mere physical death. ... The death which our first parents in the garden died involved more than mere mortal dissolution, the separation of soul and body. Such a separation indeed was entailed, but sin in itself effects spiritual death, soul-death; not annihilation but a perversion of the functions normal to personality, eventuating in moral unlikeness to God and separation from Him. Such a separation in fellowship between the soul and its God, itself is death in the profoundest sense: it is the destruction of the very possibility of God-likeness resulting in malformation and reprobacy of spiritual being. All this and vastly more, is involved in spiritual death."
Mabie had a footnote here, which I'll quote; McIntyre quoted most of the footnote. Mabie was quoting Alexander MacLaren. "We are not to set the physical sufferings of Christ in separation from, or contrast with, the spiritual agonies, but let us not suppose that the physical death was the atonement, apart from the spiritual death of separation from the Father [We must not deny the separation of the Lamb of God from the Father, which was a big part of the agony He bore for us in His atoning death.], which is witnessed by that cry of despair mingled with trust, that broke the darkness. It shows us, as if by one lightning flash, the depth of the gloom. It is like one breaker crashing on a rock-bound coast, the fringe of a dark and tossing sea that can neither be sailed over nor fathomed by us."
On page 68 Mabie mentioned "His baptism of sorrow ON THE CROSS [my emphasis]." I'll quote part of what Mabie went on to say on pages 68, 69. "That Christ experienced a spiritual anguish altogether unparalleled is found in His cry on the cross: 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' This was the high-water mark of His sorrow. ... That Christ was for the time sympathetically at least, in the place of an outcast world and partook of the sense of the abandoned before a judicial tribunal when He could say only 'My God, My God' - not 'My Father, My Father,' is most evident. In what contrast to this consciousness was Christ's cry when He EMERGED FROM THE CLOUD [my emphasis; HE EMERGED FROM THE CLOUD WHILE HE WAS STILL ON THE CROSS], and said, - 'Father into thy hands I commit My spirit...."
I need to include one more excerpt that McIntyre included from Mabie and comment on this excerpt. McIntyre left the impression (I don't believe he did this intentionally) that this excerpt continued right after his first excerpt from Mabie. He said, "Mabie then continued" and gave this second excerpt. It caused me some confusion when I thought this second excerpt directly followed the first excerpt. For one thing, McIntyre didn't use ellipses on his page 194.
This second excerpt is from page 74 of Mabie's book. "The death for which Christ came into the world, that in its elements He might taste it, and then by resurrection be saved out of it, was chiefly a profound non-physical, psychical experience, inseparably connected with the sin principle: a death of which the crucifiers of Jesus had no conception, whatever." McIntyre commented that the death that Mabie saw Christ suffering continued until He was saved out of it by resurrection.
McIntyre misunderstood what Mabie said. I have already shown that Mabie believed THE CLOUD OF AGONY/SORROW ENDED ON THE CROSS. Of course Jesus was to remain among the dead for three days (He had prophesied that He would be raised on the third day), but that three days wasn't a time of suffering. He was saved out of the realm of death (specifically out of Paradise, where the believers from the days of the Old Testament were waiting, along with the repentant man who was crucified with Jesus) on the third day by resurrection. He wasn't saved out of three days of suffering in hell on the third day by the resurrection (as Kenyon believed).
I'll include a few more excerpts from Mabie to further demonstrate that he believed Christ's suffering was finished ON THE CROSS. "The expression recorded of Him, in which it is said He 'cried with a loud voice and yielded up His Spirit,' had been rendered by Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, 'He sent away His spirit.' He 'dismissed it,' by an action wholly within His own power, when the point was reached that this could be done consistently with the redemptive purpose of that hour. ... In harmony with this were the words just previously uttered, 'Father into "Thy hands I commend My spirit, and the yet deeper utterance, 'It is finished' (pages 76, 77). And "It was for this reason [the reason being that His atoning death on the cross had to result in His resurrection, and ours, according to Word of God] the intervening period of those three days between His dying and His resurrection, in principle, WAS A MERE TRANSITION [my emphasis]" (page 80).
I won't get into all the details here, but McIntyre discussed the last few years of Kenyon's life on pages 167-174 in some detail. It is clear that Kenyon seriously hurt his back in a fall in March 1947. At that time his daughter in law insisted he see a doctor. The doctor told her that he had found a tumor, but "no tests or x-rays were performed." Kenyon, or his daughter, was not informed of the tumor, and Kenyon always stood in faith for total healing. His back was healed (at least to some significant extent), and he continued to minister. The last three months of his life, he went to live with his ex-wife and daughter; he was having back problems and was weak. He died at the age of 81, March 19, 1948. His daughter says he died of old age. Some say he died of cancer. The doctor (the same doctor Kenyon saw when he fell and injured his back) listed "the probable cause of death as 'lymphoid malignancy' " (see Simmons, page 242, 243). McIntyre (page 171) says, "No surgery or autopsy was performed so there is no way to state positively one way or another if the tumor was actually there when he died."
15. "The Word-Faith Controversy" by Robert M. Bowman Jr. (Baker Books, 2001). According to a bio in the book, he is "president of the Institute for the Development of Evangelical Apologetics (IDEA). Previously he served as a researcher for the Christian Research Institute [he worked under Walter Martin, then under his successor, Hank Hanegraaff], the Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project, and Watchman Fellowship. For five years he taught apologetics, cult studies, theology, and biblical studies at Luther Rice Seminary. ...."
On page 11 Bowman informs us that one of the conclusions he has come to is that "The roots of the Word-Faith movement are in evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity, not in the mind-science or metaphysical cults." He does believe though that E. W. Kenyon was influenced to some extent by those cults, even though he was strongly against them.
On page 12 Bowman informs us that "This book is the culmination of about fifteen years of research, study, and dialogue. ...."
I'll quote part of an important paragraph from pages 13, 14. "If any of us are to learn anything in this controversy, we must decide to stop fighting each other with words. By that I do not mean that we should not criticize one another's doctrines or actions when we are honestly convinced that they are wrong. I mean that we must deal honestly and calmly with the issues and avoid inflammatory and exaggerated statements about those with whom we disagree. ...."
I'll quote part of what Bowman says about the rhetoric of some of the critics of the Word-Faith movement. "Daniel R. McConnell argues that the Word-Faith movement is both 'cultic' and 'heretical,' Dave Hunt views the Word-Faith movement, along with the New Age movement and other occult trends, as 'part of the delusion that is preparing us' for the coming Antichrist. ... ...Hank Hanegraaff denounces the Word-Faith teachers in the strongest possible language. In his book 'Christianity in Crisis' he warns that 'the church is in horrifying danger' as 'multitudes are being duped by a gospel of greed and are embracing doctrines straight from the metaphysical cults,' throwing Christianity 'into a crisis of unparalleled proportions.' (He then assures us that he is 'no alarmist'!) He goes on to assert, 'The faith movement is every bit as cultic as the teachings of the Mormons, the Jehovah's witnesses and Christian Science' (emphasis added). The Word-Faith teaching is 'a monstrous lie,' 'frightening,' 'madness,' and 'blasphemous,' and its teachers are 'spiritual charlatans.' Although Hanegraaff claims 'it is truly difficult to overstate the horrifying implications of this worldview.' One suspects that in fact he has done just that." (Bowman included the references to the quotations in endnotes.)
((I'll comment rather briefly on Hank Hanegraaff's "Christianity in Crisis" after I finish with Bowman's book. Once Hanegraaff has written somebody off, and that seems to include Kenneth E. Hagin, E. W. Kenyon, and many others in the faith movement, he seems to delight in trying to ridicule them. (I assume he considers this to be righteous indignation.) He doesn't deal much with Kenyon in the book, and he doesn't deal all that much with Hagin. Hanegraaff is able to point out many teachings and "prophecies" of faith teachers that were about as far wrong as you can get, and these things need to be pointed out, but I believe he has written off some Christians that God hasn't written off.
Hanegraaff's chapter 1 is titled, "The Cast of Characters," which includes Kenneth E. Hagin, Essek William Kenyon, Kenneth Copeland, and quite a few others." I'll quote his ungenerous "Conclusion" at the end of this chapter: "Tragically, these purveyors of error have become adept at misleading their followers with a message that sounds authentic but is in reality a counterfeit. They point to Scripture, produce 'miracles,' and operate under the banner 'Jesus is Lord.'
But think of the words of Jesus Himself when He proclaimed, 'Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:22, 23).' "))
On page 64 Bowman says, "McConnell's quick dismissal of the idea that Kenyon should be placed in the non-Pentecostal evangelical healing tradition is perhaps the greatest weakness of his book ["A Different Gospel"]."
I'll include an excerpt from pages 85, 86 where Bowman deals with Kenyon. "In the preceding three chapters I have focused on the teachings of E. W. Kenyon. We have seen that he formulated many of the distinctive ideas of the modern Word-Faith movement. And we have seen that while he was influenced to some extent by the metaphysical cults, overall his ministry and teachings were developed in the context of the evangelical faith-healing tradition and the early Pentecostal movements. Kenyon was not, however, a Pentecostal and in some important respects his teachings differed from those of most Pentecostals."
In chapter 7 (pages 105-114) Bowman disagrees with the unbiblical idea that God has faith and with the Word-Faith interpretations of Mark 11:22 and Heb. 11:3, as I have done in this paper. On page 197 he says, "Faith is never spoken of in Scripture as a 'force' or other power. The idea in Word-faith teaching that human beings can, by using faith, make the unreal become real or the spiritual become physically manifest is contrary to Scripture." He goes on say that "the Word-Faith teachers often cite Romans 4:17 and [wrongly] claim that Christians should seek to imitate God's creative word." This verse speaks of things that only God can do. Abraham had faith in God and received the promised blessings; he didn't create anything by faith (including the birth of Isaac, which was promised by God), and we don't create anything by faith either. As I have mentioned, we (in faith) may command a mountain that needs to be moved to move, in accordance with the will of God, but one way, or another, it is God who moves the mountains, and He must be given the glory for moving the mountains. It is easy to get into pride, for one thing.
I believe that this book should be read by those interested in this topic, but I certainly don't agree with everything Bowman says. I don't believe he would write off Hagin or Kenyon as being cultic or heretical, but he strongly disagrees with many things that were taught by them, and he mentions that some things that have been taught in the Word-Faith camp should be classified as heretical. (See his pages 225-228, for example.) I agree. I don't agree, however, with his comment on page 225 that "Kenneth Hagin takes matters to a more extreme point than E. W. Kenyon did...."
We continue this study in Part 12.
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