A recent commenter was trying to understand why Charismatics seem to be particularly open to the Word of Faith movement and assume that if you are anti-Word of Faith you are anti-Charismatic. When I was in high school, before I became Charismatic, I remember staying up late with my brother and watching one of the TV ministries with my brother. It was completely ridiculous. I had a hard time even recognizing it as Christian. Yet these guys are raising enough money to stay on the air. It was several more years before I was introduced to the Faith teaching in the church where I came into the Charismatic movement. At the time it seemed that the pastors of that church were more interested in the Holy Spirit than the money and I saw the Faith teaching as something separate from what I had rejected on TV. I saw it as part of believing God. I was believing Him to be a supernatural and victorious person and that entailed an attitude of victory, overcoming and faith. Declaring Scriptures over myself made sense and I was glad to do it. It never got me the breakthrough from lifelong sin patterns, but it gave me a much more victorious mindset. I later found out that the church pastors were in fact not much different from the TV preachers and were making incredible salaries while expecting very high sums out of the congregation in many different ways.
Which leads to my first observation: it’s funny how “faith” always gets tied in with money. I do not think it is supposed to be. When you start going after the money, you end up with “name it and claim it” and a very selfish version of Christianity. That was never what I wanted — perhaps because I had never lacked money or status, or perhaps because I had already put it all on the altar when I accepted Christ. Yet, these faith teachings about money always end up in “give to get.” Instead of giving to speed the gospel, you are now giving to increase your bank account. Count me out. I’m trying to build a heavenly bank account.
My second observation is that the Word of Faith teaching quickly becomes a kind of Gnosticism, much like Christian Science. You are declaring yourself healed even though you are sick. You are declaring yourself free even though you are in bondage. You end up starting by denying reality.This is a fundamental problem that keeps it from “working.” Instead of exposing and confronting you end up denying.
But does that mean I am completely anti-Faith? Actually it doesn’t. After a number of years of not listening to that kind of teaching, I’ve realized that I’ve lost an important part of my Christian identity that I need to bring back in a healthy way. I don’t think that I could listen to the main teachers on this subject for the two reasons above, yet I think that the “Attitude of Faith” is absolutely critical. What would a “Faith” teaching look like without the money stuff and the denying of reality? Hard to imagine isn’t it??
Well for starters, I think it would become focused on victory over sin, demons, and disease, which are the things that I think I remember Jesus focusing on. I think it would also focus on confidence in the face of danger and intimidation. It would focus on bold proclamation of the truth and walking in the full stature of Christ. Secondly, I think that it would begin by recognition of a problem and THEN asserting the will of Christ over it. You are sick but — Jesus makes you well. Instead of Gnosticism we have declarations of victory on behalf of an almighty God. Real Faith is about stepping into the attitude and position of Jesus on the Earth. Hebrews 11 does truly paint a fabulous picture of the “man of faith” that God wants us to be. Is the money really that exciting? Can’t you get hyped about that on a late night infomercial?
Which leaves a question — where do the “confessions” that form the heart of the Word of Faith teaching come in? Actually these Scriptural confessions were part of why it was attractive to me in the first place. The idea of quoting a Scripture to take authority over my problem made a lot of sense to my evangelical-fundamentalist ears. I moved away from them because I felt that they weren’t really getting the job done and because of the “Gnosticism” issue of denial of reality. I am thinking about bringing them back, but with a different focus — expose the issue, and assert God’s dominion over it.