Charismatic Chaos - Part 12
Written by: MacArthur Jr., John Posted on: 04/02/2003
The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama
City, California, By John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape,
GC 90-63, titled "Charismatic Chaos" Part 12. A copy of the tape can be
obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.
Charismatic Chaos - Part 12
"Does God Promise Health and Wealth?"
The subject tonight in our study of the Charismatic Chaos is the Health,
Wealth, and Prosperity gospel. We can title this message with a question,
"Does God Promise Health and Wealth?"
When I was in the Soviet Union a couple of weeks ago they said to me, "We
want you to preach on the 'Health and Wealth' gospel." I was talking to
hundreds of pastors, and Pastor DuChanchenko (sp.) who heads up the Church
there in the Ukraine said, "I want you to preach on the 'Health-Wealth'
gospel." I said, "You're not telling me that that's a problem here?" How
could anybody go to the Soviet Union and promise people wealth? A whole
nation in poverty! He said, "It's here." He said,
Recently, outside of Kiev, a man came from America and he called
the people in the city together, and he said [that] he represented
Jesus Christ, and he was going to preach. And a great crowd of
non-Christian people came to hear him, and he promised them that
God wanted them healthy and wealthy! And he said that if they
came back the next night the power of God would fall and they
would all be healed! And so they came. A large crowd came and
nobody got healed--and they spit on the man! They spit on the
The kind of foolish promises that are being made that cannot be fulfilled
bring a terrible reproach to the name of Christ.
One of the most unusual legacies of World War II has been what are known as
the "Cargo Cults of the South Pacific." Anybody who lives in Australia or
New Zealand knows about them. Many Aboriginal Island people ranging from
northern Australia to Indonesia were first exposed to modern civilization
through the allied armed forces during World War II. The American military,
in particular, often used these remote islands in the South Pacific as sites
for temporary landing strips and supply depots. And those of you who
remember the scenario of World War II--personally I have absolutely no memory
of any of it because I was so small, but I have read and I know what
occurred--some of you will even remember, and some of you will remember your
history books and be reminded of the fact that we were all over the South
Pacific on remote little islands with our landing strips and our supply
depots so that we could keep our men in the air particularly. And so when
Americans and other allies came to these little islands and met these
Aboriginal island people they came bringing cargo. They flew in there,
created these airstrips so they could fly larger equipment in there. And
then they brought in huge warehouses full of cargo and they left as quickly
as they came when the war ended. The tribal people had absolutely no
opportunity to learn the ways of civilization, but for a brief moment they
saw high technology up close. Cargo planes would swoop in from the sky, they
would land, they would unload their payload and then takeoff.
Natives that lived in the bush all of a sudden saw cigarette lighters that
produced fire instantly and they believed it to be miraculous. They saw
large machines come in and push trees down. They went all the way from not
even having a wheel or a cart to seeing a Jeep, modern weaponry,
refrigerators, radios (talking boxes), power tools, and many varieties of
food in all kinds of cans and jars. They were fascinated by all of that and
many of those tribal people concluded that the white men were gods. When the
war was over and the troops were gone tribesmen built shrines to the "cargo
gods." Their tabernacles were perfect replicas of cargo planes, control
towers and airplane hangers. They made them out of bamboo and woven
material. These structures look remarkably like the control towers and the
plane hangers and the planes themselves, but they were really nonfunctional;
all they were was shrines or temples to the cargo gods.
On some of those remote islands today the cargo cults still thrive. Some
have personified all Americans in one deity and they call that deity "Tom
Navy." They pray for holy cargo from every airplane that flies over. They
venerate religious relics like Zippo lighters, cameras, eyeglasses, ballpoint
pens, nuts and bolts, and so on. As civilization has begun to penetrate some
of these cultures their fascination for cargo has not diminished. In fact,
missionaries that have been sent to these areas where cargo cults have
flourished receive a warm reception at first because the cargo cultist view
their arrival as the "Second Coming" of the cargo god. But they are looking
for cargo--not gospel. And missionaries say they find it very difficult to
penetrate the materialism that is the essence of the cargo cults.
In recent years the Charismatic movement has spawned its own variety of cargo
cult. It is called the "Word Faith Movement"; known otherwise as the "Faith
Movement," known as the "Faith Formula," known as the "Word of Faith,"
"Hyperfaith," "Positive Confession," "Name It and Claim It," "Health, Wealth,
and Prosperity Teaching," all of those titles. This subdivision of the
Charismatic movement, listen, is easily as superstitious and materialistic as
the "Cargo Cults" of the South Pacific. The Leaders of this Word Faith
movement, including Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Robert
Tilton, Fred Price, and Charles Capps (sp.), promise each believer financial
prosperity and perfect health; anything less, they argue, is not God's will!
And there are many people who "chime" in with this; in fact, if I understand,
last week there was a great, great convocation at the church of Fred Price,
which espouses this, attended by many, not only Charismatics and Pentecostals
but even a leading Presbyterian pastor in our area. They were all there.
The tentacles of this kind of theology has reached out far and wide. They
have sought mainstream acceptance and they have managed to build
relationships with people, who because of those relationships will not speak
the truth against them, and so the thing flourishes like a wildfire. And of
course it appeals to people because it demands nothing but faith; it doesn't
demand holiness, it doesn't demand devotion or dedication, it only demands
faith and it promises that if you have enough you'll get rich and
healthy--that's a popular message.
I suppose that we could say that virtually every false religion ever spawned
by man worships a god whose function it is to deliver some kind of "cargo."
That is, human religion invariably invents gods for utilitarian reasons.
They invent gods that give them what they want. They invent deities to serve
them rather than the other way around. The Word Faith theology has turned
Christianity into a system that is no different from the lowest human
religions. It is a form of voodoo where God can be coerced, cajoled,
manipulated, controlled, and exploited for the Christian's own ends.
I received a mailing sent out by one rather extreme Word Faith teacher named
David Eppley (sp.). A brochure was included with a bar of prayer-blessed
We are going to wash away all bad luck, sickness, misfortunes,
and evil! Yes, even that evil person you want out of your
life. Jesus helped a man wash blindness from his eyes; I want
to help you concerning hexes, vexes, home problems, love,
happiness, and joy. (the brochure said).
Inside the brochure were testimonies from people who had been blessed by that
ministry. "Door opens to new job!" said one. "An $80,000 dream comes true!"
said another. "Couldn't use my hand for twelve years!" said another. Also
inside was a personal letter from the pastor closing with a full page of
instructions on how to use the soap. If you used it right it would bring you
healing and money,
Now, after you wash the poverty from your hands, take out the
largest bill or check you have. That $100, $50, or $20 bill,
hold it in your clean hands and say, "In Jesus' name I dedicate
this gift to God's work and expect a miracle return of money."
And of course, your largest bill or check must be sent to David Eppley (sp.).
The last paragraph said,
Through this gift of discernment, I see someone sending a $25
offering and God is showing me a large check coming to them in
the next short while I mean "large;" it looks like over $1,000!
I know this sounds strange but you know me well enough to know
that I have to obey God when He speaks. I'll be here waiting
for your answer.
Frankly, that sounds more like Black Magic. Certainly a more outrageous
example than most, but still it reflects a style that is typical of nearly
all Word Faith ministries. If it was just plain hucksterism that would be
bad enough. I guess I could tell you honestly, I could take Reverend Ike. I
could take Reverend Ike because . . . (I don't know if you know who he is, but
if you don't, don't worry about him)--but, I can take Reverend Ike because
he uses the same gimmick, but he doesn't make it Christian! What corrupts so
devastatingly is to tie this kind of con game into Christ!
Word Faith teachers have corrupted the heart of New Testament Christianity.
They have moved the believers' focus off sound doctrine, worship, service,
sacrifice, and ministry; and they have shifted it instead to promised
physical, financial, and material blessings. Those blessings are the cargo
that God is supposed to deliver to those who know and follow the Word Faith
Word Faith writings . . . and there are myriad of these things, you can't even
keep up with them. I got a new one this week that somebody sent me to try to
help me to see the truth. It's a thick book and it is all about all of these
Word Faith teachers. It has all their pictures on the front. There is
almost no end to the proliferation of literature (many trees are dying in
this operation to be used for pulp and paper). Word Faith articles carry
titles like, "How to Write Your Own Ticket with God," "Godliness is
Profitable," "The Laws of Prosperity," "God's Creative Power Will Work for
You," "Releasing the Ability of God Through Prayer," "God's Formula for
Success and Prosperity," "God's Master Key to Prosperity," "Living in Divine
Prosperity," and so it goes.
In Word Faith religion the believer uses God, whereas, the truth of Biblical
Christianity is--God uses the believer! Word Faith theology sees the Holy
Spirit as a Power to be put to use for whatever the believer wants. The
Bible teaches, however, that the Holy Spirit is a person who enables the
believer to do whatever God wants. It is absolutely the opposite of
Scripture. Many Word Faith teachers claim that Jesus was "Born Again" so
that we might become "little gods." Scripture, however, teaches that Jesus
is God and it is we who must be born again.
Frankly, I have little or no tolerance for these deceptions, these corruptions
of Scriptures and false claims of the Word faith movement. I have absolutely
no constraints on me to speak to this issue because I believe that I am
literally bound by my obligation as one called to minister the truth of God
to so speak, because this defies everything I understand to be true about
The movement [Word Faith] closely resembles some of the destructive greed
sects that ravaged the early church. Paul and other apostles were not
accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated ideas
like that in their day. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and
urged Christians to avoid them. Paul warned Timothy, for example, about "Men
of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a
means of gain." This isn't anything new. Paul was dealing with those who
thought godliness was a ticket for money. Paul further said to Timothy,
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare
and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin
and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts
of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the
faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from
these things. [1 Tim 6:9-11, NASB].
These cults are generated, know this, out of a love for money! They develop
a religion to accommodate their lusts. Jude wrote of the greed mongers of
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay
they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished
in the rebellion of Korah. These men are those who are hidden
reefs in your love-feasts when they feast with you without fear,
caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by
winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild
waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam;
wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved
forever . . . They are grumblers, finding fault, following after
their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for
the sake of gaining an advantage. [Jude 11-13, 16 NASB].
There is nothing that I could say that would be as strong as that, and that
is out of God's Word. Peter wrote,
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there
will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly
introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who
bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And
many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way
of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will
exploit you with false words. [2 Pet 2:1-3, NASB].
Peter went on to say,
Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction
is not asleep . . . For speaking out arrogant words of vanity
they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, [that is, they
entice you by the things you lust for], and they entice those
who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising
them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for
by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. [2 Pet 2:3,
You show me a person who preaches the "Money Gospel," the "Money Message,"
the "Wealth Message," I'll show you a person who has been corrupted by the
love of money; that's what Peter is saying. Paul said covetousness is
idolatry and Paul forbade the Ephesians to be partakers with anyone who
brought either a message of immorality or a message of covetousness (Eph.
Now the question is, "How closely do modern Word Faith teachers resemble the
greedy false teachers that the apostles described? Is it fair to write the
movement off as heretical? As sub-Christian?" Well, I want us to look at
that, and let's find out. In some ways I hesitate to label the Word Faith
movement as a cult only because its boundaries are, as yet, somewhat hazy.
Many sincere Christians hover around the periphery of the Word Faith
teaching. It isn't a sort of a bordered, identifiable cult. It is somewhat
amorphous and it floats in an almost undefined way and bumps in and out of
all kinds of groups of Christians. And so while on the one hand we can't say
that everybody that it touches is cultic, all of the elements within it are
It has a distorted Christology that is a warped view of Christ.
It has a distorted view of man, an exulted view of man.
It has a theology built on human works.
It has a process of sanctification that justifies greed.
It has a belief that new revelation from within the group is unlocking
secrets that have been hidden from the Church for years.
It believes that extrabiblical human writings are inspired and
It has an exclusivity that compels its adherents to shun any and every
criticism of the movement. In fact, as you know, Benny Hinn said if
anybody criticizes him he wants, "to get a Holy Ghost machine gun and
blow their head off!"
Without some exacting corrections in the movement's doctrinal foundations it
will become a clearly identifiable cult, if it is not already so. It
certainly is the closest thing on earth to the greed cults of the New
Testament era which the apostles bluntly labeled heresy. Now, I know that is
a serious verdict, but I think there is ample evidence to bear it out. At
almost every turn the Word Faith movement has tainted, twisted, garbled,
misunderstood, corrupted, or obliterated the crucial doctrines of Christian
faith. Let me help you with that by looking at some of them.
First of all, The Word Faith movement has the wrong god! It has the wrong
god. I believe that it is fair to say that the god of the Word Faith
movement is not the God of the Bible. Word Faith teaching, in effect, listen
to this, sets the individual believer (are you ready for this?) above God,
and turns God into Santa Claus, or a genie, or a valet who is there to do
whatever the Christian tells Him. See, these Word Faith teachers are their
own supreme authority. Kenneth Hagin, who is patriarchal in this movement,
wrote this booklet called, "How To Write Your Own Ticket With God." He tells
about seeing a vision of Jesus and he says to Him,
Dear Lord, I have two sermons I preach concerning the woman who
touched your clothes and was healed when you were on earth. I
received both of these sermons by inspiration.
I am quoting him. Later on he quotes what Jesus told him in reply, Jesus
You are correct, My Spirit, the Holy Spirit, endeavored to get
another sermon into your spirit but you failed to pick it up.
While I am here I will do what you ask, I will give you that
sermon outline. Now, get your pencil and paper and write it
That's what Jesus said to him, he says. Hagin claims to have received
numerous visions as well as eight personal visitations from Jesus. Hagin has
written, "The Lord Himself taught me about prosperity. I never read about it
in a book; I got it directly from heaven." That claim is a lie: outright,
I'll show you why a little later. You see they believe or they want every
body else to believe that God is giving this information to them. Do you
understand beloved that if you do not have a closed Canon, and if Scripture
did not end with the Book of Revelation, if you believe that God is still
giving revelation--there is no way to stop the flood.
Everybody is claiming God speaks to them. Fortunately, for the Word Faith
people, God is telling them exactly what they want Him to say. They have
created God in the image that they want Him to be. For example, they have no
concept of God as sovereign. Scripture says in Psalm 103:19, "The Lord has
established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all."
What that simply means is, God's in charge of everybody and everything. God
is the blest and only sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim
6:15), yet in the volumes of Word Faith material that I have read, I have
not found one reference to the sovereignty of God--not one! The reason is
clear: they don't believe He is sovereign.
Jesus, according to Word Faith teaching, has no authority on earth: it is all
delegated to the Church. Kenneth Hagin says this in his book entitled, "The
Authority of the Believer," which, by the way, has long sections which were
taken verbatim from other books written by other people: and he says that he
got them from God; it is just not true. But he says that Jesus has no
authority, He delegated it all to the Church; we are in charge of God and we
are in charge of Jesus.
Furthermore, Word Faith theology teaches that God is bound by spiritual laws
that govern health and prosperity. God is bound by some laws; by some
principles. If we say the right words, or if we have the right faith, God is
forced to respond however we determine. Robert Tilton claims that God has
already committed to take His part in a covenant relationship with us. We
can make whatever commitment or promise to Him we want, quote, says Tilton,
Then we can tell God, on the authority of His Word, what we
would like Him to do. That's right, you can actually tell God
what you would like His part in the covenant to be.
In the Word Faith system God is not Lord of all: He can't work unless we
release Him to work; He is dependent on human instruments; He is dependent on
human faith; and above all, He has to act in response to human words to get
His work done. Charles Capps (sp.) has written, "It is in your power to
release the ability of God." In other words, "God is Stuck--until we speak
His orders!" On the other hand, according to Charles Capps (sp.) "Fear
activates the devil." If you succumb to fear, even doubting a little, he
You've moved God out of it. You have stopped God's ability
immediately. Maybe it was just about to come into
manifestation, but now you have established Satan's word in the
earth, "That it is not getting any better, it is getting worse."
You have established his word.
What he is saying is, "If you have fear, you release the devil to work; if
you have faith, you release God to work. So if you are afraid of Satan, you
have bottled God and set Satan loose," (My, you are a powerful person!).
According to Charles Capps, in his book, "The Tongue--A Creative Force," God
has turned over His sovereignty, including (listen to this) His creative
authority, to people. Capps has written,
In August of 1973 the Word of the Lord came unto me saying,
[Just that is frightening. This is the Lord speaking to Charles
Capps] "If men would believe me, long prayers are not necessary.
Just speaking the Word will bring you what you desire. My
creative power is given to man in word form. I have ceased, for
a time, from My work and have given man the book of My creative
power. For it to be effective man must speak it in faith Jesus
spoke it when He was on earth and as it worked then, so it shall
work now, but it must be spoken by the body. Man must rise up
and have dominion over the power of evil by My words. It is my
greatest desire that My people create a better life by the
spoken word, for My word has not lost its power just because it
has been spoken once. It is still equally as powerful today as
when I said, 'Let there be light,' but for My word to be
effective, man must speak it; and that creative power will come
forth performing that which is spoken in faith."
Simply saying, in other words what he is stating is this, "You have the
ability (if you have enough faith) to create with your words. You want
money? Create it with your faith filled words. You want healings? Create
it with your faith filled words." It escapes my how one of these popular
Word Faith teachers could possibly be 5 Million dollars in debt; can't he
just speak it into existence? And then on the other hand, why pray at all if
your words have so much creative force? Why pray? What's there to ask for?
You really come up with a denial that you need to seek anything from God;
after all, God has given the sovereignty to you, He's yielded up His creative
power to you; it's not His word anymore, it was His word the first time, it
is your word now. Speak it into existence, you don't need Him--you're
Another of their teachers, Norval Hayes (sp.), says it is better to talk to
your checkbook, talk to your disease, or talk to whatever predicament you're
in than to turn to God in prayer! I'm quoting,
You aren't supposed to talk to Jesus about it; you're supposed
to talk directly to the mountain in Jesus' Name (whatever the
mountain is in your life). Stop talking to Jesus about it; stop
talking to anybody else about it; speak to the mountain itself
in Jesus' Name. Don't say, "Oh God, help me. Remove this
sickness from me," say, "Flu, I'm not going to let you come into
my body! Go from me in the name of Jesus! Nose, I tell you,
stop running! Cough, I tell you to leave in Jesus' name!" Say,
"Cancer, you can't kill me, I will never die of cancer in Jesus'
name!" [I'm quoting him further] Do you have a financial
mountain in your life? Start talking to your money. Tell your
checkbook to line up with God's word. Talk to your business.
Command customers to come into your business and spend their
money there. Talk to the mountain.
You laugh at this, and I understand that, but there are a lot of people who
don't laugh at this--they are believing this. Norval Hayes (sp.) has several
publications and one of them titled "Putting Your Angels To Work" which
indicates that you are not only sovereign over this world but you are
sovereign over the angelic world as well. Hayes also teaches that believers
can exercise dominion over the angels, quote,
Since angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to and for
Christians [he reasons], we can learn how to put them into
action on our behalf. We believers ought to be keeping those
angelic creatures busy! We ought to have them working for us
all of the time.
And so I think it is fair to say that Word Faith theology denies the
sovereignty of God, removes the need to pray to God for any relief from
burdens or needs and gives the Christian himself both dominion and creative
power. In my judgment it is human pride at its ugliest. Worse, it is
idolatry and the new idol is self, and God is dethroned. To follow this
wrong-God concept a little further, the Word Faith movement teaches that when
you become a Christian you become part of a race of little gods. Kenneth
Copeland has explicitly stated what many Word Faith teachers more subtly
imply. This is what Kenneth Copeland writes,
He imparted in you, when you were born again . . .Peter said it
just as plain, he said, "We are partakers of the divine nature."
That nature is life eternal in absolute perfection, and that was
imparted, injected into your spirit-man and you have that
imparted into you by God just the same as you imparted into your
child the nature of humanity. That child wasn't born a whale,
he was born a human--isn't that true? Well now, you don't have
a human do you? You are one. And you don't have a god in
you--you are one!
Copeland teaches that Adam was created in the god-class; that is, Adam was a
reproduction of God! Listen to what he says,
He was not subordinate to God--Adam was walking as a god! What
he said "went," what he did "counted"; and when he bowed his
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