Word of Faith Movement
Word of Faith Movement
The Word of Faith movement is an independent, Charismatic Christian network of churches and ministries, loosely bound by a basic doctrine, the Faith Message. Generally speaking, according to their understanding of the Bible, which they see as God's legal contract, the born-again Christian is guaranteed certain rights and privileges. Leaders teach that it is God's will for Christians to be prosperous, successful, and in perfect health in this present life. The Faith Message also teaches that faith, and certain other aspects of spirituality, must be properly applied according to immutable laws for believers to live a victorious Christian life. Central to the doctrine is positive confession—the practice of thinking and speaking only affirmatively to achieve a desired end. In addition, the movement is also charismatic in its beliefs and practices, insisting on the personal and corporate experience of the gifts of the Spirit as normative. Among these gifts is glossolalia, or speaking in tongues.
The original author of the precepts informing today's Word of Faith Movement was a little-known independent evangelist, Essek William (E. W.) Kenyon (1867–1948). Impassioned debate continues within the Christian community concerning the extent to which Kenyon was influenced by and incorporated elements of New Thought metaphysics into his theology, thus giving it so-called cultic roots. Based on the belief that this is the case, some have called the Faith Message heresy and "a different gospel" from what can be considered orthodox. Pastor and evangelist Kenneth Erwin Hagin, Sr. (1917–), commonly considered the leader of the contemporary Word of Faith Movement, has written numerous books that expand on Kenyon's work.
A pivotal figure in the formation of today's movement, Hagin established and incorporated the Kenneth Hagin Evangelistic Association in 1963. Through his books and tapes, his radio and television broadcasts, and the Rhema Bible Training Center (1974), in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, he helped expand the audience for these teachings. Hagin's efforts facilitated the transformation of the Faith Message into the ideological basis of an international movement as well as producing a second generation of Faith teachers. Since the first graduating class (1974–1975), the Rhema Bible Training Center has sent more than 16,500 new Faith Movement ministers out to establish new ministries throughout the world. Hagin's magazine The Word of Faith reports a monthly circulation of 540,000.
In contrast to a denomination with a formalized institutional structure that maintains authority over its membership, voluntary organizations are the norm within the Word of Faith Movement. The International Convention of Faith Ministries (ICFM), founded in 1979, provides an organizational link among member ministries by offering opportunities for networking, fellowship, and support among ministers. The ICFM also holds a yearly convention at which member ministries come together for revivals, seminars, and other church-related activities. The Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN), self-described as the largest Christian television network in the world, is another major medium for disseminating this doctrine. The TBN has affiliates throughout North and South America and in a number of countries overseas.
Today's most prominent Word of Faith Movement ministers include Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (Fort Worth); Dr. Frederick K. C. Price (Los Angeles); Marilyn Hickey (Denver); and Dr. David Yonggi Cho (Seoul, Korea), whose church is reportedly the largest in the world, with over 750,000 members.
Gossett, Don, and E. W. Kenyon. The Power of YourWords: Walking with God by Agreeing with Him. 1998.
Hagin, Kenneth E., Sr. Classic Sermons. 1993.
Hanegraaf, Hank. Christianity in Crisis. 1997.
Kenyon, E. W. The Father and His Family: The Story ofMan's Redemption. 1998.
MacIntyre, Joe R. E. W. Kenyon and His Message of Faith:The True Story. 1997.
McConnell, Dan R. A Different Gospel: Biblical and Historical Insights into the Word of Faith Movement. 1995.
Simmons, Dale H. E. W. Kenyon and the Postbellum Pursuit of Peace, Power, and Plenty. 1997.
Milmon F. Harrison