Joseph Prince is a false teacher. Make no mistake about it. Anyone who actually studies their Bible can see this easily. Unfortunately, many people don’t, and are greatly deceived by him and others like him. I even know some people whom I consider friends who actually do read their Bibles regularly and still don’t see it. Of course, my friends never read the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the “Old Testament”) and therein lies the problem.
But the focus of this post is not to point out that Prince is a false teacher, but rather to expose the lie behind the “Word of Faith” movement. Perhaps you are familiar with this approach to “faith”. Perhaps not. For those of you that are not, here’s an abbreviated definition:
Word of Faith doctrine is essentially the teaching that through positive faith-filled confession (speech), based on right belief, that one may open the floodgates of God’s blessings, both financially, spiritually and physically. In essence, by speaking rightly, we are acting in agreement with God’s purposes for our life, and that this aligning of our confession with God’s will releases God’s power on our behalf.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, I want God’s blessings, don’t you? The doctrine is based primarily upon the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans:
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.’ – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching.” (Rom.10:8)
Since the movement is based on something Paul wrote, it’s legitimate, right? Who’s going to argue with Paul? Well, no one, except Paul didn’t really say what these folks are claiming, and I’ll show you why.
First, some history, for context. The Word of Faith movement began with evangelist E.W.Kenyon, who died in 1948.
Kenyon had strong ties to the occult. His teachings were adopted (and adapted) by the famous Pentecostal preacher and guru Kenneth Hagin (who died in 2003), whose chief disciple, and current leader of the movement is Kenneth Copeland. Many other popular television preachers also hail Hagin (and Copeland) as mentors, such as Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and of course, Joseph Prince. They are all false, part of the great apostasy of the church, and sirens of a satanic gospel which is leaving millions in a state of false security with no idea what saving faith actually is.
So, back to the verse in Romans which is the foundation verse for this movement. I’m not going to take all sorts of precious time to really expose the demonic nature of Hagin’s antics or his teaching, or of that of his followers (at least not now), but rather I’ll just focus on debunking the root of their theology by exploring the origins of what the apostle Paul is actually talking about here.
Part of the verse in question has as a central part of it a quote from Deuteronomy 30, in which Moses is exhorting the people to choose life by obeying God’s laws. In fact, the quote is more involved than that and starts in Rom.10:5.
If you don’t know this already, the original Hebrew scrolls of the Torah had no chapter or verse divisions. When a scribe or rabbi quoted a passage, he was quoting the entire passage in context. The audience was expected to know the passage. (Though we have far more ability to access the word today, were are far less literate in it than the people of Paul’s day, who studied the Torah constantly). The passage in Deuteronomy is worth quoting at length, to establish just how far the Word of Faith preachers are from what Paul intended to communicate.
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and judgments…” (Deut.30:11-15)
Question: Are the blessings of life and prosperity contained in this passage from the Torah? Yes.
So, does this mean that the Word of Faith teachers are justified in their proclamations? No.
How so? Because they claim that there is nothing required of a believer to attain these blessings other than positively confess them with one’s mouth, thereby claiming them. However, we have already seen in our study of Jesus’ parable of the buried treasure that merely claiming something is not proof of ownership, but that it must be purchased legally. Click on this link to see this: Purchasing Buried Treasure, Part One
So, if claiming it by confession is not a correct interpretation, then what is the right one?
Simple; the answer is found in the passage itself:
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and judgments..
Notice it does not say, ‘in your mouth and in your heart, that you may confess it‘. Nor does it say, ‘I have set before you today life and prosperity…that you may claim it’. No, by contrast it says the exact opposite. It is for us to observe and do, meaning to obey. The release of God’s blessings comes through obeying God. It is speaking of obeying God’s commandments. This is truly disturbing. Not what God’s word says, heaven forbid, but what Joseph Prince claims it means, which is the exact opposite of what God said. This means that the Word of Faith doctrine is not just false, it is satanic. The mark of satan’s influence is always the twisting of God’s words to mean the opposite of what He says, just like in the Garden, the satan has been a liar from the beginning (Jn.8:44)
The Word of Faith doctrine makes a mockery of the Bible and twists God’s word out of proportion to such an extent that massive sections of scripture must be literally either disregarded or redefined in order to accept it. Paul’s concept of faith could not be further from what these false teachers claim. Rather, the word Paul uses for faith is ‘pistus‘, which does not imply confession, or even belief, but rather it is an action word that means “faithing”, or active, practicing faith. A faith that strives after obedience. Not that we are perfect, we are not. That is what grace is for. But anyone who claims to be “in Christ” who is not actively striving after obedience to God’s commandments and the subjugation of one’s own will is not “in” anything except themselves. It is God’s grace towards them that they come to realize this, perhaps through “wake-up-call” teachings like this one, or simply by applying logic and reason to their understanding. This is because “it is not God’s will that any should perish.”
The next time someone tells you that they want to “pray in agreement” or “lay hands on you to bestow power”, tell them, ‘No thanks, I’ve got all the power I need already. You touching me won’t enhance it.’
Don’t be deceived by “charismania”, brothers and sisters.