November 25, 2022

In this episode Kurt speaks with Rob Velez on the false teaching of the Word of Faith movement. Name it and claim it, the power of positive thinking, and claims of divinity, all of which are unbiblical teachings.

Listen to “Episode 119: Word of Faith” on Spreaker.

Kurt:

A good day to you, and thank you for joining us here on Veracity Hill, where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.  It’s so nice to be with you here in our office in downtown West Chicago.  It is the home of the best international podcast out of West Chicago, at least about apologetics.  Chris, as far as I know, there’s actually no one else doing any podcasts in West Chicago.  We’re the best apologetics podcast out of West Chicago.  Thank you for tuning in with us, whether you are watching on a livestream, listening through the Spreaker application on our website, or listening through Podcast iTunes in the Google Play Store.  Before we jump into today’s program, if you love what we do here, we could really use your support in helping our ministry grow.  We’re presently trying to get Veracity Hill on the radio in different parts of the country, and we can’t do it without your support unless we have some seed money, if you will.  We’re hoping and praying that a radio ministry could become flourishing, and could then generate revenue to put our program into other cities.  So if we could just get some of that seed-money support, we really hope this ministry will take off.  As a Christian ministry, I guess it’s not sort of explicitly evangelistic.  I think it’s sort of a teaching/learning ministry.  We’ve had a great lineup that’s come on the show, and before we get into today’s program, I do want to ward off any potential confusion here, and Chris, I’m going to drive over my window here.  So our guests in the past—we’ve had Seth Baker running our social media for a while now, and he’s been doing a great job, so I want to show you some of the programs that he’s come up with here.  He’s got some great images that he makes.  We’ve got Dan Wallace here.  Here’s a picture of Dan Wallace.  We had NT Wright.  We have NT Wright here.  We see with some of these images, he puts the image of the famous person.  Here’s Craig Evans, there’s Hitler (we didn’t have Hitler on the show, of course), Cameron Bertuzzi, Brigitte Moramel.  So there were some people who were wondering, “Did you get Benny Hinn on your program today?”  No, we did not get Benny Hinn on our program, which would be amazing.  I’d come into the office this afternoon.  “Is this the guy for the program?  That’s not Rob!”  So I just want to ward off any confusion: no, not Benny Hinn.  But the guy we’re talking to is actually on the right side more so than Benny Hinn.  Actually with Benny Hinn, I think I recall some recent interview when he talked about how he didn’t really preach right things, or something like that.  But Benny Hinn’s ministry is really something of a façade, and we’re going to get to talk about that and other so-called Christian preachers and teachers.  As a theologian, I recognize that there is a spectrum for (sic) non-essential Christian doctrines, differences that Christians have about what they believe the Bible teaches.  There comes a line, though, where some teaching is simply unchristian, or even anti-Christian.  Some teaching is unchristian, and some of it is frankly heresy, when it’s either worked out to its logical entailments, or even if it’s taught.  As we’re going to go through on today’s show (we’re going to talk about the Word of Faith movement), some of the things that are taught are heretical.  So joining me today on our program is Rob Velez, who is the lead pastor at North Star Community Church in southeast Charlotte.  Rob, thank you for joining us on our program today.

Rob Velez:

Thank you for having me.

Kurt:

Yeah, so your church was so kind to have me come last week, and I sat in on the service, and it was wonderful to be with your flock there.  And thanks for letting me plug Defenders there for two minutes.

Velez:

Absolutely!  I love apologetics, and anytime I can have someone plug something related to the defense of the faith, I’m all about it.

Kurt:

Thank you, and you’ve got a great church there.  You do expository preaching, so you go through the word, so anyone who is interested in learning more about the Bible and what it has to say on a weekly basis, I would encourage you to go and check out Rob’s church there.  It’s in southeast Charlotte.  Yeah, that’s right, the southeastern part of the city, from what I recall.  I did a big day trip last week after that weekend’s conference.  Rob and I both spoke at the Southern Evangelical Seminary’s national conference in Christian apologetics, and boy, it was a national conference!  There were something like three thousand people there.  Ravi Zacharias was there, Frank Tuer, Jay Leno Wallace, Josh McDowell, Richard Howell is a great mind there at SES, and Rob, you had the opportunity to get an MA in apologetics from that institution.

Velez:

That’s right.  I love SES, and that was a great conference.  I think this year was one of their best conferences in my opinion.  I wish I could have—and you understand where I’m coming from on this—I wish I could have attended more of the breakout sessions, but that doesn’t always work out.  But it was a great conference, and I did enjoy the sessions I did get to attend.

Kurt:

You had the opportunity to speak, and this topic was what you spoke on.  I realized as I was thinking back, this is episode 119 for us, and we have yet to have done (sic) a Word of Faith episode, so I thought we had a great opportunity here.  We have some people already tuning in to our program here.  Seth writes, “I speak this episode’s success into existence!  #BelieveAndYouWillReceive #BlessedAndHighlyFavored”  Seth obviously already knows quite a bit about the Word of Faith movement.

Velez:

It sounds like it!

Kurt:

For those that don’t, I want to tell you something about me.  Maybe this is something you don’t know.  Most weeks, I actually have a pad of pen (sic) and a paper, and I take notes on what our guests are talking about so that I can follow along and learn from them.  So I encourage you to take a pad of paper, sit down, and take some notes, as we might learn some new things.  In fact, Rob, when I heard you give this talk, I learned some new things about the Word of Faith movement myself, especially about its connection to so-called Christian Science.  I didn’t know that.  So we’re still learning new things, and that’s part of our tagline here: striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.  We’re all a work in progress, and we’re all learning new things.  So if you’re unfamiliar with this movement, or even if you are a little bit familiar, please take some notes here as we learn about the intricacies of the movement.  So first off, Rob, let me ask you: I talked about how some things, and especially in this movement more so, are unchristian, and while there may be room for Christians to debate certain things, such as the age of the Earth or different soteriological models (that’s a big word for the Calvinist/Arminian debate, and other positions, perhaps), tell me why something like the Word of Faith movement goes beyond differences of opinion.  Why is this something that is unchristian?

Velez:

Well, like (sic) you said, there are essentials.  That’s something that—Calvinism, Arminianism, premillennialism, postmillennialism, those things really don’t matter.  But when we’re talking about doctrines that matter, things like theology proper, when we’re teaching about God, teaching about man, here’s where I think some of the doctrines are heretical because they teach one thing in particular called the little-gods doctrine, where man is created in the likeness of God, thus making man a little god.  That’s not what the text says, and I think when we start getting into those kinds of things, it’s very dangerous.  It’s very dangerous.  The Bible nowhere teaches that we are gods, not even a little god with a little G.  I just don’t understand how these guys can teach that.

Kurt:

So what are some Bible verses that might clue us in to the importance of holding fast to doctrine?

Velez:

Holding fast to good doctrine?  Well, there are several.  Jude 3 is one of them.  “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints.”  That’s important.  II Peter 2, and really all of Peter, says, “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying the master who bought them.”  Thinking about making yourself a little god, I think, is denying the master who bought you, because he alone is God.  Another one, which is very important as a pastor, as an elder, as a teacher—Titus 1:9 is very close to my heart because Paul wrote to Titus, and he wrote the same thing.  He said of a pastor, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also be able to rebuke those who contradict it.”  Those are important texts to remember.  And who can forget about Galatians?  Paul had some strong words for the Galatians there.

Kurt:

Yeah, he says if he or an angel were to bring a doctrine other than what he’d already preached, let him be accursed.  That’s a passage I often use in talking to Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it would apply as well to the Word of Faith movement.

Velez:

Absolutely, and there are some areas in the Word of Faith movement that could pass for Mormonism.  When we talk about the little-gods doctrine, Mormons believe that they are divine, that they will be gods of their own planet.

Kurt:

But only the men, not the women.  If you’re a woman, you’re out of luck, you’re not going to become a god of your own planet.  Alright, so let me ask you: if you could give just a general summary, what would you say is the Word of Faith movement?

Velez:

The Word of Faith movement is a prosperity gospel.  It’s a lot of—I think you said “name it and claim it,” positive confession, controlling with a faith force.  With your words, you manipulate the faith force.  You speak your own reality into existence.  “God wants you to be healthy.  God wants you to be rich.  He wants you to be happy.”

Kurt: Speaking your own reality?  I mean, there might be a lot certain types of social-justice warriors today who are speaking their own reality.  They say what they are.

Velez:

Is this a political episode?

Kurt:

I mentioned to you last week that I haven’t done a political episode in a while.

Velez:

Maybe we can get into that too.  That would be fun.

Kurt:

I’ll probably do that closer to November.  We’ve got the midterm elections coming up.  So the Word of Faith movement is a sort of collection of different teachings.  We’ve got the prosperity gospel, that’s where (sic) God wants you to be only rich.  We’ve got what’s sometimes called “health and wealth,” and we’re going to get into this.  If you’re sick, God can heal you, and if he doesn’t heal you, it’s because you don’t have enough faith to be healed.  That’s a dangerous teaching because a) we see that people are sick in the scriptures, and it’s not because they don’t have faith that they’re not healed, they simply aren’t.  That’s just the reality.  And that’s dangerous because you’re imposing upon people an expectation or a certain standard of faith that the Bible certainly doesn’t require.  And in fact, it might push people away from their Christian faith because of that.  Okay, let’s talk about the history and origin of this Word of Faith movement.  It hasn’t always been around, and it seems like (sic) it’s a movement that can succeed in a first-world economy where people are rich, and they are healthy, and it’s because of advances in the medical industry.  But it might not do as well in a world where we don’t have those sorts of advancements, although in third-world economies, it’s popular today, but only because people have that reference point to first-world economies.

Velez:

Africa is one of the places where those teachings are just rampant.  It’s awful.  Not to get off on a sidebar conversation, but being there this summer—in August, I was there.  I was seeing there a Word of Faith church, and a Full Gospel church in little villages, and thinking, “That is not the gospel.”

Kurt:

Tell us about the origins here.  Where does this movement come from?

Velez:

It grew out of whom I would call the grandfather of the Word of Faith movement, or maybe the great-grandfather of the Word of Faith movement, Essek William Kenyon.  He was a pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church.  He founded an institute in Massachusetts called the Bethel Bible Institute.  Interestingly enough, he was a Free Will Baptist preacher.  He kind of developed this thing.  It grew out of the Pentecostal movement.  He studied under the metaphysical New Thought teachings of one Phineas Quimby.  Maybe you think, “Phineas Quimby?  Who’s that?  I’ve never heard of him.”  Quimby was a New Thought father.  It was a metaphysical cult, and some of their teachings are Spiritism and parapsychology, these things that are pretty out there.  Quimby was a student of the occult.  He studied hypnosis, and this is what started to develop what we know as Christian Science.  I’m sure many people have heard of Christian Science, which was developed by Mary Baker Eddy.  She used Quimby’s teaching as an inspiration for her theology.  Christian Science, as I’ve mentioned before, is very poorly named.  It’s not Christian, and it’s not scientific at all.

Kurt: They believe that if you follow the right teaching, you would never be sick.  You would never become sick.

Velez:

Correct.  If you ask Mary Baker Eddy (who can’t vouch because she’s passed), she thought he healed her, and she was a very conflicted person, and she passed, so she wasn’t healed.  One of the things that we see even today in Christian Science thinking is that when people are sick (and I’m sure many of us have heard of this), you have friends who are sick, and you can tell that they are kind of dabbling in this Word of Faith movement, but they’re sick, and you know they’re sick.  You can see that they’ve got a runny nose.  They’re sneezing, coughing, the whole deal, the whole nine yards, and you say to them, “You’re looking pretty sick.”  And they say, “Oh, no, no, no.  I won’t confess that.”  That is Christian Science, and that really is much of what is going on in this Word of Faith movement, and I would say it’s even creeping into the church, into orthodox churches.  I’ve heard several people say that, and I want to tell you right here: that’s heresy.

Kurt:

It’s taking this idea of the power of positive thinking and just sort of—I mean, it’s one thing to be optimistic about some life circumstances.  It’s another to think you have power, this control.  Let’s say my arm is broken.  Let’s say my bone is broken right here, it’s broken in half.  The power of positive thinking would basically say, “Oh no, don’t say it!  If you don’t confess that it’s broken, then it’s not really broken!”  Wait a second!  It’s split in two!  It’s clearly not right.  Something is wrong here.  And we do see this—I think you’re absolutely right—we do see this creeping into the church.  So tell me about this: there’s a disciple of Kenyon, of EW Kenyon, called Kenneth Hagin.  Tell me more about Hagin.  Are you there?  I’m not sure if you caught my question.  You could tell us about Kenneth Hagin, the disciple of Kenyon.

Velez:

Oh, Kenneth Hagin, he’s probably the most—

Kurt:

He’s the Mack Daddy of the Word of Faith movement.

Velez:

Right, he’s the Mack Daddy.  He is, interestingly enough, probably one of the foremost people.  I think I’m going to share a picture here that you’ll need to see.

Kurt:

Cool, and you’ve other slides to show us as well, and some videos.

Velez:

I hope they do.  I don’t know if you can see that or not.

Kurt: Yes, we’ve got it there.

Velez:

Kenneth Hagin was, as you said, a disciple of EW Kenyon, and he made the Word of Faith movement what it is today, and some of their teachings are just—

Kurt:

Here he says (and I’m looking at the slide here), “You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was.  Every man who has been born again is an incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle.  The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”  That’s what Kenneth Hagin says.

Velez:

Yeah, deification, the little-gods controversy.  “You are as much an incarnation as Jesus Christ?”  That is heretical.  Jesus is the only-begotten son of God.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  He is God incarnate.  So to say that is just—

Kurt:

Yeah, this is one of the subpoints (sic) of the Word of Faith movement.  This point specifically, I think, we can absolutely say is heretical, because what he’s saying is that humans are homoousios with the Father, and people can’t say, “Oh, it’s not heresy!”  No, look at the four Christian creeds, and all of a sudden, he’s saying we’re equivalent to God and we should have the substance, and that would be heresy.  Now maybe some of this other teaching is not so explicitly, clearly heresy.  I think they’re still unbiblical, but this one particularly, no, that one does not fit within the boundaries of orthodoxy.

Velez:

Right, and interestingly enough, you talk to some people, and they’ll say, “Kenneth Hagin?  He’s kind of an obscure guy.  Nobody knows who that guy is.”  And for the most part, they’re right.  Of course, I have another presentation that I did on the New Apostolic Reformation, which is another movement.  A lot of that goes right back into Kenneth Hagin.  The New Apostolic Reformation is really just an offshoot of the Word of Faith movement, but I think that one is a little more popular now.  I know some folks who saw that, and say it’s just a tired conspiracy, but it isn’t.  It’s creeping into the church as well.  So they, “Kenneth Hagin?  Who’s this guy?  He’s obscure.  Nobody knows who he is.”  Well, when we start talking about this guy, and who his disciples were, and who his intelligent disciples are, we start to see why we should say, “Anybody who has any ties to this guy should be staying far away.”  One of those guys is Kenneth Copeland.  Kenneth Copeland was probably—well, he is the leader of the modern Word of Faith movement today.  He’s been on TBN.  He might have his own channel, his own network by now.  There are so many of those networks around right now.  Kenneth Copeland is the leader of the Word of Faith movement.  He’s had some influence on some of the younger, hipper teachers of today.  Kenneth Copeland has said some similar things to Kenneth Hagin.  There’s a clip that I’d like to share because it’s better to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Kenneth Copeland:

God’s reason for creating Adam was his desire to reproduce himself.  I mean a reproduction of himself!  In the Garden of Eden, he did that.  He was not a little like God.  He was not almost like God.  He was not subordinate to God, even, and Adam was as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus, when he came into the Earth, said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”  He was a lot like God.  He was God manifested in the flesh, and I want you to know something.  Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh!

Kurt:

I laugh because that is awful.  Just think about it: if Adam is God manifested in the flesh, and then Adam sins, let’s put two and two together here, Mr. Copeland!  Let’s see what you’re proposing.

Velez:

If Adam is God manifested in the flesh, then through Adam, sin entered into the world, and through the sin, we’re saying that it was God who sinned.  That’s problematic on several levels.

Kurt:

That is very problematic.  One of our watchers right now is Jonathan Hammond.  He’s written a few comments right now.  Thank you, Jonathan.  “Kenneth Copeland is terrible, and does not know what he is talking about at all.”  Oh, here’s a political reference for you.  “Kenneth Hagin is 1/1,024th of a theologian.”  That’s a contemporary political reference to a headline of political news.  We’ve got others folks tuning in today.  Ted Wright, it’s good to see you.  Zach is tuning in.  It’s great to see that we have folks watching.  Well, we’ve got to take a short break here.  It’s good to get into and talk about the little-gods doctrine, and I think you’re absolutely right that it’s good to hear it from the horse’s mouth.  After our short break here, we’re going to get into some of the other teachings in the Word of Faith movement, and we’ve got our video service working, which is great.  Rob has some more videos and more slides to guide us through, so that you can hear what it is that these Word of Faith teachers preach, and we’re going to go through and talk about how these are problematic.  So stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.

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Kurt:

Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors.  If you want to learn how you can become a sponsor—or one of our patrons—you can go to veracityhill.com and click on that Patreon tab.  I would love to get your support, whether it’s five or ten dollars a month, or if the Lord has blessed you and you really want to see this ministry grow, please consider giving more.  Those that give twenty dollars or more per month can get a USB flash drive printed with the Veracity Hill logo, preloaded with some of our favorite episodes for you to listen to on your computer.  It’s got one of the nifty holes (I don’t think I’ve got one near me here) where you can plug it straight into a USB-C.  Chris might be working on bringing me one here.  Yes, here we are.  So this is really nifty.  You’ve got the traditional USB port, and you can even flip it right here, and this will go straight into the newer MacBooks, or even into the newer iPhones.  As you can see, it goes straight into there, and then you can load it up.  In this episode, we’re talking about the Word of Faith movement.  Now according to Boromir, who is from “The Lord of the Rings,” one does not simply name it and claim it.  It’s not that easy, guys, alright?  If they could have just spoken the One Ring out of existence, that would have saved them so much hardship, but it’s a little harder than that!  We’re talking about the Word of Faith movement, and we’re joined by Rob Velez, who is the lead pastor at North Star Community Church in southeast Charlotte.  If you live in that area there, I want to encourage you to check out his church.  There’s great expository preaching, so you can get to know the word, the word of God and what it says.  There’s a great community of people there, which I had a chance to meet last Sunday.  Now Rob, I’m pretty sure I did not tell you about this next segment of our program.  It’s called Rapid Questions.  He’s looking nervous!  This is good.  This is exactly what we aim for.  We’ve got sixty seconds here.  We’ve got a game clock, and I’m just going to ask you some fun, goofy questions about you.  For those that haven’t listened to our program in the past, we’ve typically had about 24 questions, but I’ve actually increased it.  I think it’s a hundred questions now, so there will be some repeats, but we’ve got some new ones.  So Rob, when you’re ready, I’m going to start the game clock.

Velez:

I love silly questions!

Kurt:

Alright, so you are ready?

Velez:

I’m ready!  I’m ready!

Kurt:

Chris, maybe we should extend the game clock to ninety seconds, but it’s sixty seconds for now.  Okay, I’m going to get it rolling.  What is your clothing store of choice?

Velez:

Goodwill.

Kurt:

Taco Bell or KFC?

Velez:

Taco Bell!

Kurt:

Do you like to dance?

Velez:

Not really.

Kurt:

What song is playing on your radio these days?

Velez: Nu metal!

Kurt:

What time is bedtime for you?

Velez:

Probably 9:00 or 9:30.

Kurt:

How many tattoos do you have?  You’re a military guy, so you’ve got a lot.

Velez:

Yeah.

Kurt:

Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

Velez:

Does it look like it?

Kurt:

Do you drink Dr. Pepper?

Velez:

I don’t drink soda.

Kurt:

Ah, okay.  Pick a fictional character that you’d like to meet.

Velez:

A fictional character that I’d like to meet?  I can’t think of one.

Kurt:

You’re not a reader of fiction.

Velez:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read fiction.  It’s been a very long time.  Typically, I read theologians and all that stuff.

Kurt:

No problem.  So tell me: you’ve got a background in the military.  By the way, thank you for playing that round of Rapid Questions to help us know a little more about you.  And Goodwill?  You can get good finds there, cheap and good finds!  And you’ve got to shop at Goodwill when you buy as many books as you do.

Velez:

You know that’s right.  I also have to pick up some that I see that are written by Kenneth Hagin or Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn.

Kurt:

Opposition research, and making sure no one else is buying them.  Isn’t that something?  That’s kind of something!  You buy the book in the hopes that no one else will get it, but then again, it gives them more sales, so it’s kind of counterproductive, but I guess if you’re getting the books at Goodwill, it’s not so bad.  Alright last question before we get back to the topic of today’s program: military background?  Tell me about that.  You served overseas a couple of times?

Velez:

I did.  I was in the army.  I was an infantryman.  I did basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  I was stationed at Fort Benning for two years.  I served overseas.  I did a tour in Korea, and stayed there for a year.  In 2005, I was in Operation Iraqi Freedom, so I was stationed in Iraq for a year, so I did that, and that was fun.  When I say it was fun, it was one of those times.  It was the best of times, and the worst of times, and we wouldn’t trade those times for anything.  I think I grew a lot in that year spiritually.  I had some battles with faith with some of the things that we see over there.  Looking back now, and seeing how big God is, if you don’t see the problem of evil in war, you’ll never see the goodness of God either.  I’m not saying war is great.  Nobody likes war, and God is good, and God doesn’t want that for us.  It’s part of our free will.

Kurt:

So you’ve got the fond memories, but at the same time, it’s a tough thing to do that type of stuff, so thank you for what you’ve done.  Alright, the Word of Faith movement, name it and claim it!  Can you imagine the Word of Faith movement on the front lines?  We’ve talked briefly about how they teach that God always wants you to be healed.  So I want to move on from the little-gods doctrine, and there’s so much more we could say about this, but just due to time constraints, we’re going to move along to the health-and-wealth aspect.  Could you tell us about—and I know you’ve got some video clips, so I’ll just sort of let you take over for a bit here—the notion of God always wanting to heal people?

Velez:

Well if God wanted to heal you—let me back up a little bit and just go from there.  Health and wealth is one of the biggest aspects of the Word of Faith movement/prosperity gospel mainframe of health and wealth.  They teach it is always God’s will that we be healed.  Once you follow the progression from the little-gods doctrine, it really is just part of it.  If you are a little god, then you have the ability to manipulate that faith force, and become prosperous in all areas of your life, and that includes your health.

Kurt:

Does anyone ever think to consider that little gods can’t get sick in the first place?

Velez:

Why would you be sick if you’re a little god?  If you’re a little god, you can’t be sick, and that’s actually part of their thinking.  Kenneth Copeland says the first step in Christian maturity is to realize your position before God.  You are a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus.  Consequently, you are entitled to all the rights and privileges of the kingdom of God, and one of those rights is health and healing…Kenneth Copeland has a lot of faulty doctrines, and this is one of them, and it all comes out of this little-gods doctrine.  If we think about this, if healing really is a part of the atonement, which is where they find it, why do they still get sick?  Why do Christians get sick?  You made mention of this earlier: it’s lack of faith.  It’s lack of faith on your part.  Benny Hinn, the whom you had on, just make sure that is not me (sic)!  That is Benny Hinn.  It would be great if you could have him on the program.  I would love to talk with him.

Kurt:

We have had opposing perspectives.  We bring on folks from all kinds of different backgrounds.  I wouldn’t even know the best way to contact him, but that would be fascinating!

Velez:

Fascinating, to say the least!  I love the title of his book “Rise and Be Healed.”  He says, “The work was done two thousand years ago.  God is not going to heal you.  No!  He healed you two thousand years ago, and all you have to do today is receive your healing by faith.  By faith you receive your healing.”

Kurt:

I mean, it’s true that in the scriptures, we see Jesus heal people because of their faith.  But at the very least, to infer from that that God wants to heal everyone, and will do so all the time is an illogical inference.  That’s a step in the wrong direction.

Velez:

Right, it is absolutely a step in the wrong direction.  And I’ll say this: Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn—those guys are just off the deep end anyway.  But there are other people who are more popular today who have things to say in this department, and I have a clip I’d like to share with you on that one.  I hope this one works.

Man:

The Bible says in I John 2, “It is God’s will that you prosper above all else, even as your soul prospers.”  Now I love that.  That means God is concerned about my financial life.  He wants me to have my needs met.  He wants you to have your needs met.  He’s concerned about your soul.  He wants you to grow spiritually.  He’s also concerned about your physical body.  I don’t believe that it’s God’s best for us to constantly feel bad, to have no energy, to be in pain all the time.

Velez:

Let me just stop that right there.  Joyce Meyer is a very popular teacher with women in many denominations.  It’s kind of scary to see the influence she has, but this is a big way that this is creeping into the church is through women like this.  But I just hear her say that she believes the scriptures say that God is concerned for you, and he wants you to be healthy.  She quotes from one of the epistles, the Third Epistle of John.  It’s interesting that she does that, and I’m not sure why I’m having so much trouble finding that letter.  Oh, here it is!  But she says, “I pray that all may go well with you, and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”  This was a letter that John wrote to someone, and this is a greeting.  This is a greeting!  It’s not to say that God doesn’t care for our souls.  He does, but he wants our souls to be saved, not to be prosperous.  And then, if you caught it, he said, “I don’t believe that that is God’s best for us to walk around in pain and constantly sick.”  Well, it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it.  It’s a part of life.  It’s a reality of life that we get sick, and we are not always healed when we demand it.

Kurt:

There’s a clear distinction between spiritually prospering and prospering materially or physically.  Paul writes letters from jail.  He’s been persecuted, beaten.  So if you’re reading the New Testament, and you really think it is a health-and-wealth gospel, start reading.  Start reading the scriptures, and read it carefully, and ask, “What were these people like?”  They were giving up their reputations, their livelihoods, all for the sake of the gospel.  It’s clear that this is not part of the early church.  It wasn’t part of Jesus’ teachings either.  It’s problematic, and can literally be dangerous to your health, and is, from a theological perspective, a heresy.  So this is something that, as you said earlier, is infiltrating the church.  When I think of the prosperity gospel, I think of Joel Osteen.  I forget where it is, but he’s just got a huge church down in Houston, right?  Yeah, Lakewood Church.  I’m just astounded at how many people show up to hear him speak.  Based on what they teach there, wake up, people!  This is not what the Bible teaches, and the only reason this guy keeps getting more attention is because people keep sending him checks thinking that if they do so, he’s going to pray for them.

Velez:

It’s baffling to see how many people get sucked into this movement.  It’s sad!  It’s sad.  It really is sad.

Kurt:

Let’s talk about the law of attraction.  We’re not talking about romantic relationships here when we talk about the law of attraction.  We’re talking about something else, aren’t we, Rob?

Velez:

Yeah, this is totally different.  The law of attraction is positive confession, and it’s born out of the—well, you mentioned Joel Osteen.  He’s probably one of the biggest proponents of this, proclaiming God’s best by declaring.  But the law of attraction is positive confession.  If we go back to the beginning of the show here, and the method we saw, it was like the method of a cult.  It goes back to the New Thought movement of Quimby, and it’s also part of Higher Thought.  The New Thought movement holds that the Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere.  He’s the spirit of the totality of real things.  The true human self is divine.  And of course, the thought is for good.  Sickness originates in the mind, so right thinking has a healing effect, and right thinking also thinks things into existence.  And this says focusing on the healing focuses the corresponding energy to our thoughts.  If our thoughts are positive, we attract positive things.  If our feelings are negative, we attract negative things.  The essential message of this law of attraction is that we all have the power to determine our own destiny.  We have the power to create our own reality, and this is something that was really made popular in recent years by “The Secret” (Rhonda Burns, I think, is her name).  That’s basically what it is.  “The Secret” is just the New Thought movement repackaged in Christian lingo and sold as Christianity.

Kurt:

You’ve studied this a bit more in-depth than I have.  Would you say that all, or most, or maybe just some of these teachers would say that this law of attraction has this force, this ether, this force in the world that people can harness?  Is that a fair statement?  How many of these teachers think that?

Velez:

I would say probably 99.9999 percent of—

Kurt:

Oh, so it’s that prominent, this idea of a force.  Not surprisingly, something like “Star Wars” would be—people like that, so they would want to try to modify it so that they can harness this energy in the world for their own good.

Velez:

I remember being small when the “Star Wars” movies came out.  I was there for the first one.  I remember “The Empire Strikes Back” when Luke was hanging in a cave upside-down, and he was trying to use the Force to get his lightsaber.  I remember, when I was small, trying to do that with different things.

Kurt:

You said, “It’s not working, darn it!”

Velez:

Right, and we had fun with it, but this is basically the kind of stuff that they’re teaching, is that we have the power to manipulate this “faith force” for our benefit, and we do this by speaking things.  Let me share this quote with you from my favorite guy.  These guys always smile.  In “Your Best Life Now,” by Joel Osteen, which is seven steps for living at your full potential, he says, “God has already done everything he is going to do.  The ball is now in your court.  If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you have to have the ability to do more than meditate and believe.  You have to boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your family.”  So declaring things over yourself, and claiming things is how you become successful?  This is straight from the law of attraction, and that’s his message: Word of Faith!  This is not at all what the Apostle Paul wrote.  This is not talked about in the New Testament at all.  Joel Osteen packs the church.  He just packs the church.  He doesn’t want to do it, but you have the power to determine your own deficit, to be victorious and financially prosperous.  Of course we all want to have that kind of power, but I don’t think it works that way.  I think all of us, if we could do that, we would do it.

Kurt:

We’ve got two questions from those that are tuning in right now.  They’ve been patiently waiting, I think.  So let me ask you this first.  This comes from Jonathan.  “What does Rob think of the Wesley quote, ‘Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can?’”

Velez:

What is the context of that?

Kurt:

I’m not sure.  That is a great first question to ask.

Velez:

That’s my question: what’s the context?

Kurt:

But even without context, “Make all you can” just means work hard, “Save all you can” means being a good steward, and then “give all you can!”  That’s something you wouldn’t hear from—well they would say give.  They say, “Give to me all you can!”  Alright, this is a very good question from Kyle.  He’s one of our regular listeners.  Kyle, thank you for your question here.  “How can we remain open to the biblical promises of blessing, healing, miracles, and injunctions to act out in faith without succumbing to the Word of Faith movement?”

Velez:

That’s a good question.  Remember his promises in scripture.  That’s the way to separate this whole belief.  Be positive!  It’s better to be optimistic than pessimistic.  Remember his promises, but remember that God is sovereign, and he’s the one in control.  If you continue to pray for healing, that’s right!  That faith can heal some when they are sick.  I pray earnestly that they would be healed!  I pray believing that they will be healed, but ultimately, it’s in God’s hands.  It’s his will.  It’s up to him.  He knows better than we do, so what we should do is we lean on him, trust in him, and remember his promises.  Seek him in all you do, and remember his goodness.

Kurt:

And that’s different from, as Kyle said, succumbing to the Word of Faith movement, which says, “If you do this, then it will necessarily happen!”  That’s not what the scripture talks about.  There is no guarantee, and much of what the New Testament teaches is about spiritually prospering, not being materially or physically prosperous.

Velez:

It does teach you to be selfless, it doesn’t teach you to be selfish.  God doesn’t need our money.  He doesn’t need anything from us.

Kurt:

Yeah, and when you say he doesn’t need anything from us, you’re talking about the doctrine of aseity.  That’s a complex topic.  We’ve got to do an episode on divine aseity.  What does that mean?  It means that God doesn’t depend on anything else.  He’s self-sustaining, if you will.  He’s a necessary being, in fact.  Alright, well Rob, I want to thank you for joining us on our program today, and for sharing with us.  And there’s so much more that could be said, too.  I know you’ve got some great videos and quotes from folks.  Maybe we’ll have to have you on another time.  We could do a part two, or something like that.

Velez:

I would love that!

Kurt:

Well thanks again for sharing with us and teaching us and warning us about this Word of Faith movement, and why we should be on the lookout, because even in our churches, in orthodox churches, we’re getting people that promote this stuff, even if it’s, “Oh, I don’t have a cold!”  It’s that sort of thing, “the power of positive thinking.”  No, you do have a cold, and stay away from my little kids, because I don’t want them to get the cold, and then I’m going to get the cold, and then it’s all a mess.  So whether it’s a broken arm, or even a common cold, this stuff is out there, and it’s infiltrating the church, and we should be aware of that, and all the more so because of how dangerous of a teaching it can be!  Alright, Rob, thanks so much.  I’ll close out here, and I’ll catch you on the flipside momentarily.  I want to say this: if you are one of our regular listeners, would you consider going to iTunes or Google Play and give us a review?  We’d love your help with some of the search-engine results.  Also review us on Facebook, and if you like our program so much, would you consider sharing the livestream on your profile?  Let other people know you like this show, and you want them to watch it and to learn from it as well.  Of course, we would love to get your continued support of our program.  Well, that does it for our program today.  I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons, and the partnerships we have with our sponsors Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, the Illinois Family Institute, Fox Restoration, and Nonprofit Megaphone.  Thank you to our technical producer Chris, for all the great, wonderful work that he does week after week.  Thank you to our guest Rob Velez.  You can learn more about his ministry at his church at northstarcharlotte.org.  We want to encourage you to check that out as well.  And last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in, and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.

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