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What is it?
Q. I watch Christian T.V. and keep hearing about positive confession and sowing seed faith. Can you explain what this is?
Short List of Whom
Let's start with "whom" and then discuss "what" it is. Taken from a "Word of Faith" bookstore this presents a short list of their speakers and authors whom you may know: John Avanzini, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Marilyn Hickey, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Rod Parsley, Fred Price, Oral Roberts, and Lester Sumrall among others.
Forum for Theological Aberrations
This list reads like a T.V. guide of programs aired daily on TBN, Daystar and AngelOne television. Pastor John MacArthur points out that the TBN network "gives a forum to every theological aberration in existence. You can watch and see everything from the good and the righteous to the worst of what is out there. But, they never make a value judgment on anything. Never.
MacArthur notes that this has softened the church's ability to discern. Everything is tolerated. Everything is accepted. Every viewpoint is okay. Everybody's whim is fine as long as we don't say anything negative about anybody else, as long as we maintain the love and unity in Christ" (from Tape GC 52-53).
A recent problem for Word of Faith (or Positive Confession) teachers is that the book, The Secret, written by Rhonda Byrne, teaches "positive confession" without Jesus! And it works for them! It was number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller Advice Book List for quite awhile and had beaten Joel Osteen's, Your Best Life Now, off of the top 10.
Positive Confession and the Word of Faith preachers believe that you must think positive thoughts so that you may bring good things into existence. We call this "Tinker bell Theology:" Just think happy thoughts and clap your hands.
Can we Call into being Things which are Not?
Joyce Meyer says that "one of the greatest privileges we have as God's children is that of reaching into the realm where God is and calling 'those things which be not as if they were.'"
"We should also establish that this practice can work against us if we are calling for things that are not God's will but the enemy's. As a matter of fact, the world seems to be addicted to calling for disaster" (Meyer 1997, 33).
The verse that Joyce Meyer uses…"God…calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Romans 4:17) is pulled out of context.
Speaking of Abraham's faith the complete verse reads as follows:
"He is the father of us all in God's sight. As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations. He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. Against hope, with hope he believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be" (Romans 4:17-18, HCSB).
Be careful out there, folks. Use discernment and good judgment.
(Ed. comment: Note that we frequently recommend Joyce Meyer's CDs. Her ability to help those with relationship and abuse issues is unsurpassed. Meyer has replaced questionable psychiatry with a correct focus on God's Word and has helped millions to cope with difficult personal problems).
As we can see the misinterpretation of this verse borders on the blasphemous! "Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing" (v. 17, NLT).
Sometimes it's helpful to consult a good translation in updated English. It is not man who has the power to resurrect the dead or to create all things. We are not gods who speak into existence the world or the universe as is described in the book of Genesis. Our faith is not sovereign over God. It is God alone who creates all things.
Okay. What exactly is "positive confession?"
From the Apologetics Research website Positive Confession is defined as a:
1. "Theology of the Spoken Word (Rhematology), or thought actualization, commonly known as positive confession. It stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts. Each person predestines his own future by what he says verbally and by how well he uses spiritual laws."
2…."Isaiah 53 is used to justify blanket coverage for the physical healing of every Christian who has enough faith. …'it is the plan of our Father God in His great love and His great mercy that no believer should ever be sick, that every believer should live his life full span down here on earth and that every believer should finally just fall asleep in Jesus' (Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know About Divine Healing, p. 21)."
3."The Gospel of Wealth: A central tenet of the prosperity gospel is that God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian. If a believer lives in poverty, he/she is living outside God's intended will."
"The basic premise of 'positive confession' as taught in the Word-Faith movement is:
-God created things by speaking them into existence.
-We are created in God's image.
-Therefore we, too, can create things (or situations) by speaking them into existence."
"Those who teach this doctrine claim that words are a creative force, with the power of influencing both the physical and the spiritual world. Hence believers spend much time
-binding Satan, demons and other spiritual entities.
Robert Bowman, currently the director of the Center for Biblical Apologetics concludes:
"God created man in 'God's class' (or, as 'little gods'), with the potential to exercise the 'God kind of faith' in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. We forfeited this opportunity, however, by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan's nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan's nature), went to Hell, was 'born again,' rose from the dead with God's nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the Incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be little gods. Since we are called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is often taught) be left by one's spouse, and not to have these problems solved by 'claiming' God's promises, shows a lack of faith. While certain aspects of the above doctrine may vary from teacher to teacher, the general outline remains the same in each case."
In order to bring about the desired result, Word of Faith preachers teach an idea they call "seed-faith" giving. They state that for you to receive anything from God you must donate money as an offering to God (usually to their ministries).
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 is often used as a text for sowing "seed faith:" …"whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (v. 6)…He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity…" (v. 10-11).
Malachi 3:10 is also frequently used as the other base text. Let's look at verses 8-10:
"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!"
You ask: "How do we rob You?"
By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions.
You are suffering under a curse, yet you - the whole nation - are still robbing Me. Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,' says the Lord of Hosts. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure" (HCSB).
Giving just to Get?
We don't believe it pleases God for Christians to give to get. 1 Timothy 6:18 instructs the rich to "do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life" (ESV). To please our heavenly Father is the correct goal - not to amass riches for ourselves.
Elements of a Cult
Pastor John MacArthur notes that "all of the elements that are common to the cults exists within the prosperity movement or the Health, Wealth movement: a distorted Christology, an exalted view of man, an erroneous view of God, a theology based on human works, a belief that new revelation is coming and unlocking secrets that have been hidden for years, and extrabiblical human writings that they deem inspired and authoritative. All of those are typically cultic features.
…Kenneth Copeland states, 'Why didn't Jesus openly proclaim Himself as God during His 33 years on earth? For one single reason: He hadn't come to earth as God, He had come as man.'
He seems to be saying that Jesus came only as man and not as God. The Word of Faith Jesus often sounds like nothing more than some kind of divinely empowered man."
…"He has Jesus in a prolonged condition of ceasing to be God and being man alienated from God, in hell, trying to 'get His act together' in order that He can be reborn."
"The Word Faith movement has concocted this strange theology that makes sinners gods and makes the sinless Son of God into a sinner. Such teaching is utterly unbiblical. It demeans our Lord, it demeans His work, as it is obvious to anyone."
In order to avoid falling into the trap of Positive Confession and Word of Faith beliefs we need to develop discernment. MacArthur lists six things crucial to the development of discernment. They are:
1. Desire it. "If you cry for discernment, if you lift your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."
2. Prayer: 1 Kings 3:9 says, "So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil." James 1:5 says, "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally and holds back nothing."
3. Learn from gifted people. 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are of God."
4. Be discipled by mature Christians. Ephesians 4:14 tells us not to "be children tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine…"
5. Rely on the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:20 and 2:27 state that "You have an anointing from God so you don't need any man to teach you…But as his anointing teaches you about everything - and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you - abide in him."
6. Study Scripture. You will not become a discerning Christian unless you diligently study God's Word. The Bereans "searched the scriptures diligently to see these things, whether they were so" (Acts 17:11).
Good advice for all of us!
MacArthur, John. 1992. Charismatic chaos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
—-Does God promise health and wealth? Available from: www.ondoctrine.com.
Meyer, Joyce. 1997. Me and my big mouth. N.Y. Warner Books.
Positive confession: A word-faith doctrine. Available from: www.apologeticsindex.org.
Authors Valorie Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon Christian origins. Ken received the MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.
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