Word of Faith Movement

A controversial Christian movement advocating prosperity, health, and the power of positive confession.


Overview

The Word of Faith movement, also known as the Prosperity Gospel or Health and Wealth Gospel, is a Christian movement that emphasizes the power of faith and positive confession. It is characterized by a belief that words, particularly those spoken in faith, can directly affect an individual’s reality, including their health and economic status. This movement has been subject to significant criticism from various Christian denominations and theologians.

Beliefs and Teachings

At the core of the Word of Faith movement is the belief that God wants Christians to be prosperous, healthy, and victorious in all areas of life. Proponents of this movement claim that through faith and positive confession – speaking words of faith about a desired outcome – believers can “speak” their desires into reality, similar to God’s creative power.

Key concepts include:

  • Positive Confession: The practice of declaring or confessing faith in God’s promises. It is based on interpretations of verses like Proverbs 18:21, which speaks about the power of the tongue to bring life or death.
  • Health and Wealth: The belief that God’s will is for believers to be physically healthy and financially wealthy. Sickness and poverty are often seen as a lack of faith.
  • Seed Faith: The idea that donations or “seeds” sown into a ministry or church will yield a return or “harvest” of blessings from God.

Criticism and Controversy

The Word of Faith movement has been widely criticized for several reasons:

  1. Theological Concerns: Critics argue that the movement’s teachings distort traditional Christian doctrine, particularly regarding the nature of faith, God’s sovereignty, and the role of suffering in the Christian life.
  2. Materialism and Exploitation: There are concerns that the focus on wealth and health can lead to materialism. Critics also argue that it exploits vulnerable people by promising wealth and healing in exchange for financial contributions.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations: The movement is said to create unrealistic expectations, where failure to receive the promised blessings leads to guilt and a sense of inadequacy among believers.
  4. Biblical Interpretation: Critics contend that the Word of Faith teachings often take Bible verses out of context, especially those related to prosperity and healing.
  5. Experiences and Claims: Some Word of Faith leaders claim extraordinary spiritual experiences and miracles, which have been subject to skepticism and scrutiny.

Prominent Figures and Influence

Prominent figures in the Word of Faith movement include Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Frederick K.C. Price, Benny Hinn, and Creflo Dollar. The movement has a significant presence in the United States and has influenced many churches and ministries worldwide, including the largest church in Seoul, Korea, led by David Yonggi Cho.