The Prosperity Gospel

Continued from the previous question in Blue Blooded Pentecostal

The following is something that I wrote some years ago that may offer some help with your present problem.
This teaching through the writings of Kenneth Hagin has had a wide influence in the Charismatic Church. The following information is not an assault on the person of Kenneth Hagin but on his teaching about faith.

The Prayer of Faith: What is it?

In today’s church there is a teaching that uses James 5.15 as its prooftext and is often believed to be a part of, if not, the gift of faith. When this subject is discussed in some Christian circles, it produces more heat than light. We propose the following question and then give two possible answers for it.

Question. Is there such a prayer as the Prayer of Faith?

Answer #1. On one hand there can be no other kind of prayer. Surely one does not pray without some kind of faith attached to the prayer. Faith is the instrument through which effective prayer occurs.

Answer #2. To understand the answer that is proposed here, we need to review what we believe about how one comes to Scripture and interprets it. Believers have the right to study and interpret Scripture for themselves. While this right is extended to all who believe, it appears to be at the root of a lot of anxiety that arises among believers.

There are some important areas that are often disregarded when we begin to interpret Scripture. The most often neglected concept is foundational: Scripture came to a different people, in a different time frame, with a different mindset. When the writers of Scripture took up their pen to write, they communicated to a real living group of people in time and space. These people understood what was being written. The culture in which they lived is called by us history, but it was present reality to them. The most important result that can occur when we study Scripture is to try to hear what the first hearers heard or believed when they heard or read the words we call Scripture.

For the most part today, in the Charismatic arm of the church, Scripture is read subjectively. History and grammar have no part in its understanding. How often have we heard, “In our study today, we are going to put the Word of God first. We are not dealing with what we think it says, but with what it actually says.” We often believe that our point of view is orthodox and all others are suspect. One who uses such language is suggesting that any interpretation of Scripture that differs from the one being taught is based on what other people think, while the teaching being offered, however, is the plain truth.

The plain truth of the text is the goal of interpreting. However, what we conclude is not often plain in any way. The phrase plain meaning should be understood as having to do with the author’s original intent. This intent would have been plain to his readership. However, plain meaning usually endorses a meaning that is deduced from a reading of the cultural values of the twenty-first-century into Scripture, using the distorted prism of a seventeenth-century language. Worldview stands at the root of this pervasive way of thinking. Groups that live according to a highly subjective theological system will come to Scripture in a purely subjective way. In spite of subjectivity running berserk, Scripture stands as an objective body of truth, regardless of how much of my subjectivity gets in the way of interpreting it.

To Be Continued…

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