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Updating The Word Of Faith Movement
MONDAY, MAY 22, 2006
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
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Most of the books about the Charismatic and Word of Faith movement were done in the early 1990s before a remarkable change came over the movement. Someone needs to bring these books up to date, because the change helps us understand why (their concept of) divine healing is bogus. The whole movement is bogus.

I don't know when this stuff started. I suppose it was when the original divine healers took their message out of their tents and onto television because they could get more money from more people. (Kenneth Copeland and Oral Roberts were probably the two most successful ones at the transition, with Rex Humbard being a notable mention. Some of the original tent healers never made it into the "God's generals" hall of fame. Do a study sometime on the ones from this era about whom you never hear anything anymore like A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, and others. The forefathers are not honored in this movement. They're forgotten because they're an embarassment.)

The drawback to broadcasting the healing message was that having it on television opened it to more scrutiny. Having a tent full of gullible people for a night or two, which could be folded up and moved to the next town, was easier than having a wider and more critical audience.

This wave of divine healing on television peaked in the late 1980s, when the tumbleweeds were rolling through Oral Robert's Potemkin healing village and television preachers were a byword among people who had little use for this magic-show religion.

During the 1990s, the future of the divine healing message as a fundraiser looked bleak. Outside of the core faithful who were so deluded that the bogosity of this message would not penetrate them, the ability of money-hungry preachers to get people to open their wallets for raised expectations was waning.

Enter the prosperity gospel. In the mid to late 1990s, television became saturated with preachers promising wealth, riches, money, and prosperity. Divine healing was obviously bogus, even to the most faithful (who were, in the end, let down like the rest), but prosperity was the message people wanted to hear.

This message proved to be much less bogus than the divine healing message, because during this time, it was difficult not to prosper in America. Particularly, those who would be faithful enough to donate money to a preacher were likely also dilligent enough to get a better job. The charlatans on television had finally found a much more solid message, one that was considerably less bogus than divine healing although no more deceptive. The first thing you learn in statistics is that a correllation between two events does not imply causation. Just because two things are releated to each other doesn't mean one caused the other. The first thing you learn in finance is that a rising tide lifts all boats. But the message of easy money from a Santa-Claus God made good television in the age of the lottery mentality where success wasn't success unless people got something for nothing. Hard workers need not apply to this God for blessing. As Adrian Belew said, in one of my favorite lines of all time, "nothing is sacred or too outrageous". Even Oral Roberts was given tailored, fancy silk suits. Other preachers screamed "money cometh to me now!" and had the faithful pull a slot machine handle. (I wish I was making this up, but it's true. There's even a book by that title, including the pseudo-King James English.)

I wish I could explain the theology of the prosperity gospel, but there really isn't any. The foundations are more than a little sandy, resting on Bible verses wrenched out of context and any sane exposition from odd corners of the Bible which have no relationship to each other. There is also a perversion of the most innocent scripture passages to turn them into prosperity proof-texts and parables. The idea builds on divine healing's bogosity: Christians, by having Jesus as savior, somehow can put God into a position where God is obligated to bless the people with materialistic wealth because they did something like repeat magic words or give away money. Like most of the products of the television charlatans, this nonsense (by any orthodox standard) amounted to sending money to television preachers and waiting for God to get around to doing his part. If it wasn't a scam to empty people's pockets, it is still a man-centered religion based on man putting God into obligation, a situation that is not Biblical or Christian.

All good things must come to an end, and the prosperity gospel was a magnesium flare of religious fervor. It burned out quickly when the prosperity of the late 1990s turned into the austerity of the early 2000s. As war raged and oil prices skyrocketed, the "God" of the religious charlatans on television became too small and impotent to continue the outpouring of blessings from heaven.

But the charlatans moved on to the next chapter. Souls became popular after the '01 market letdown. Souls, souls, souls! became the cry as television preachers saw their donations plummet (the reverse of the old saying is true, the ebbing tide grounds all boats) and mercilessly began to pressure their dwindling constituency to give money to help the starving (black) children in Africa (if I were in the black community I would denounce this heartless exploitation from the rooftops), the starving children in America (the television preachers turned their ability at distorting scripture to census statistics to tell some whoppers, since there was zero evidence of this), and the lost around the world (who have no hope at all, unless the television preachers are sent around the world to take up offerings).

The names change, almost every time you turn on television, so there's no point in me listing who these charlatans are. This mess won't ever end, of course, but the history of the Word of Faith movement should be a sufficient word to the wise that is is bogus and spiritually bankrupt. I say this only because I was delivered from it into true Christianity.

Category:  Divine Healing-Bogus

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