The Secret and Joel Osteen: An Even Greater Problem than American Christianity’s ABC moment.

We do live in an anything but Christian moment. Sometimes it has been called an “A-B-C” (anything but Christian) moment. It is a moment in human history in which we are not only being attacked in the West by a liberal liberalism but we are also being invaded, as it were, by militant Islam. The demographics alone are alarming. Perhaps there is even a greater problem, which is the problem of a church ill-equipped, and ill-prepared. A church that is gorging on empty calorie diets. A church that is no longer a leavening force within the culture. If there was ever a time in which the church needed to stand up and be counted, it is now.

Let me give you just a little anecdote. There was an article in USA Today entitled “How Conor McGregor’s Belief in Law of Attraction Will Help Him Beat Floyd Mayweather.” This of course was about the Floyd Mayweather vs. Connor McGregor fight which took place on Saturday. Connor McGregor talked about the law of attraction in this article. He said, “It is the most powerful thing in the world…the belief that you are able to create whatever situation that you want for yourself and no one can take it from you. It is believing something is already yours.” McGregor went on to say, “If you can see it here and you have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen…you are creating that law of attraction and it will become reality.” Vocalizing desires then makes them real. McGregor predicted as a result of the law of attraction that he would win in just two rounds. He lost, of course, in the tenth round.

Now, that anecdote is interesting to me for this reason: it does not just come out of midair. It comes from a book that was a mega bestseller called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. She told the world that she had discovered the secret to life, and boy did the world take notice, Oprah Winfrey at the top of the list. What was the secret? The secret was the law of attraction. Rhonda Byrne got the law of attraction from the New Testament. She says it is quite easy; the New Testament gives it to us in “three simple steps”: ask, believe, receive. Then she goes on to point to herself as the principle example. In order to transform herself from fat to thin, she had a method; she thought thin thoughts. In fact, she said she did not so much look at fat people because if you see people who are overweight and observe them, that is going to be a negative consequence. She says as a result of the secret, “I now maintain my perfect weight of 116 pounds and I can eat whatever I want.” In other words, for her, the error was to think that food [i.e., overeating] was responsible for weight gain.

That kind of rhetoric, at first blush, may seem merely silly, but there is a clear and present danger in the reasoning. Just as her followers must avoid fat people for fear of becoming fat as well, they must avoid cancer victims for fear of contracting cancer or, for that matter, poor people for fear of becoming poor. In other words, you have to avoid the very people that Jesus exhorts us to care for. Do not even look at them, according to Rhonda Byrne.

What I found to be remarkable about Byrne is that she is remarkably open with respect to The Secret’s dark underbelly. She points out events in history where masses have been lost. Why? Again, the law of attraction. They attracted horror to themselves. Thoughts of fear can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “We are attracting everything to ourselves” and “There is no exception,” says Joe Vital, a law of attraction devotee. Thin thoughts produce thin bodies. On the other hand, six million Jews brought the horror of the Holocaust upon themselves. Or, think Houston. In Houston, there are millions of people attracting fifty-seven-trillion liters of floodwater to fall on Houston because they are thinking negative thoughts — at least that is the logical extension of her view.

For Rhonda Byrne, the jinni is the law of attraction, but this has metastasized, because it is not just being taught in the world under a quasi-Christian framework; it is being taught overtly in the church. In Houston, you have Joel Osteen. He is explaining that you have to begin speaking words of faith over your life; your words have enormous creative power; the moment you speak something out, you give birth to it, it is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you are saying is good or bad, positive or negative. When Osteen describes the genocide of nearly one million Rwandans, the implications are never far from the surface. Wherever and whenever tragedy strikes, words are at the center of the narrative. “Think about it,” exhorts Osteen in Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, “Your words go out of your mouth and they come right back into your own ears…and those words will produce exactly what you’re saying.” As proof, Osteen invokes the Bible. Says Osteen, “The Scripture tells us that we are to ‘call the things that are not as if they already were’” or were already in place. The problem here is he has taken a text, and he has distorted the text. He is quoting from Romans 4:17 and, as he must surely know, that text says nothing of the sort. It does say something of the sort, it is just that he has put a spin on it. The spin is that we are to call those things that are not as though they already were. But what does the Bible say? It says it is God who calls those things that are not as though they already were.

All of that ought to be a warning that we are within the church buying into a form of New Thought metaphysics carefully packaged for Christian consumption. Now the atheist world, the materialist world, looks at this and says, “See how easily Christians are misled! How gullible they are!” But, this is a caricature of Christianity. It is not the real thing.

What I am saying is this: yes, we face a threat from a liberal liberalism. Just think about the transgender movement. Now sex is no longer tied to biology. Think about gender fluidity. There are fifty-seven or more varieties now. Think about same-sex marriage. All of this is a threat to the historic Christian faith and to Western civilization. Then we have the demographic issue of millions and millions of self-aborting Europeans meaning that through the social structure now in vogue, the death rate exceeds the birthrate, and filling the vacuum (as vacuums are always filled) are millions and millions of polygamous Muslims. Yet, you wonder, somehow or other, how in the world could Islam be in bed with a liberal liberalism or vice versa? Does not seem to make much sense? But it does when you come to think about the reality that, right now as I speak, Christianity is seen as the obstacle that has for too long been dominant within Western culture, and it must be unseated. Now you have, as I said, strange bedfellows. In the midst of this milieu, a crumbling church and me talking to you on the Bible Answer Man broadcast saying, if you will be salt and light, you can exercise the power of one, and make a difference. And if you think the power of one is not significant, think Martin Luther. Or, think about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Or, in a negative sense, think about Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong or Pol Pot. We can make a difference, but it is not because words create reality; it is because we are called by God who does create reality to be empowered by the Spirit and to go out and make a difference while there is yet time.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following articles:

What Is The Secret? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Secret Revealed: Assessing the Latest Self-Help Phenomenon (Robert Velarde)

Osteenification and What It Portends (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity in Crisis, 21st Century: Wealth and Want (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity Still In Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Bon Hunter)

What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 1): E. W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel (Hank Hanegraaff)

What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland (Hank Hanegraaff and Erwin M. de Castro)

God Is Love, but Is Love God? (Elliot Miller)

Addressing the ‘Positive Gospel’ of the Metaphysical Movement (Dean C. Halverson)

See also our e-store resources:

Christianity in Crisis, 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

The Osteenification of America by Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the August 29, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Having Faith to Move Mountains

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Faith and Healing

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk (Acts 14:8-10, NIV).

What does it mean to have “faith to be healed”? Does this mean through faith we can experience healing from all our physical sicknesses and infirmities?

Here is the issue: What is your faith in and how do you define faith? The Word of Faith movement says faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, through the force of faith you create your own reality. You can then by having faith in your own faith be healed.

A biblical understanding of faith is that faith is a channel of living trust between an individual and their God, and therefore, faith is only as good as the object in whom it is placed. If it is placed in yourself, it is ill-placed. If it is placed in God, it is well-placed. That is the point of faith. We are to have faith in God.

If we have faith in God, then we can move a mountain (Matt. 17:20; 21:21-22). What does that mean God can move mountains? It is precisely what it means. Therefore, Jesus is saying If you have faith in God, then you have the kind of faith that can do anything because God can do anything in accordance with His will and in accordance with His nature.

The whole issue here is not whether you can be healed by faith; rather, what kind of faith you possess. Is it faith in your own faith or faith in your God? If you have faith in God, you are also saying, “May it be according to your will, because you know what is best for me, I do not know what is best for myself.” We see a snapshot in time, but God sees the panoply of our lives; therefore, we say, “God this is what I would like; nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done.”

There are people like Joni Eareckson Tada who is one of my heroes of the faith. She has been a quadriplegic in a wheelchair for many, many years—decades in fact. Does she want to be healed? Of course! But, she recognizes now in retrospect that her wheelchair has become her crown. As a result of being in a wheelchair, she has been one who has sat at the feet of the Master, and out of the overflow of her relationship with God, she has blessed multitudes.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Does Isaiah 53:5 Guarantee Our Healing Today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Gospel of Peace a Promise of Ease and Prosperity? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Faith in Faith or Faith in God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Osteenification and What it Portends (Hank Hanegraaff)

Healing: Does God Always Heal? (Elliot Miller)

Is There Healing In This Application? (Walt Russell)

This blog adapted from “In Acts 14 Paul sees that a crippled man has the faith to be healed. Can you explain this?


Calling Out John Hagee’s Outrageous Spin


What are your thoughts on John Hagee?

I have written about John Hagee in a book called Christianity in Crisis 21st Century. He is a committed Word of Faith teacher who believes that faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, and through the force of faith one can create their own reality.

Hagee is also a committed Christian Zionist. He has said some pretty bizarre things about his belief in that regard, which I chronicle in my books Christianity in Crisis 21st Century and The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times…and Why It Matters Today. For example, one of the things he does as a leading Christian Zionist is he routinely castigates those who do not share his two people of God theory as replacement theologians who are carrying Hitler’s anointing in their message, despite the fact that it is he—not those who he constantly impugns—who holds that Israel will soon replace the church as the focus of God’s plans. In fact, according Hagee’s view it is not the too distant future in which two thirds of Jews—whom he is now helping to herd into the Holy Land—are going to suffer a Holocaust that will make the Nazi atrocities pale by comparison.

Not only that, but I think it is truly tragic that Hagee places far greater emphasis on returning Jews to the Land than he does on turning Jewish people to the Lord. One of the quotes that I have in The Apocalypse Code are pretty telling. He says, “Let us put an end to this Christian chatter that ‘all the Jews are lost’ and can’t be in the will of God until they convert to Christianity!”1 Incredibly then, he goes so far as to take the onus off the Jewish community and places it squarely on the Jewish Christ. He says, “If Jesus refused by his words or actions to claim to be the Messiah to the Jews, then HOW CAN THE JEWS BE BLAMED FOR REJECTING WHAT WAS NEVER OFFERED?2 In other words, he goes so far as to say that the Jewish people wanted Jesus to be their Messiah but Jesus absolutely refused. Says Hagee, “The Jews were not rejecting Jesus as Messiah, it was Jesus who was refusing to be the Messiah to the Jews!”3

Now think about this? If you had read through the Gospels even once, you know full well that Jesus emphatically contradicted what John Hagee is purporting. Who can forget—and I am sure not one person listening to me and I cannot imagine that Hagee could forget—who can forget the emotionally charged words that Jesus spoke as He was leaving the temple? He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34).4 Or as the Apostle John put it: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). It is very clearly the Jewish people in Scripture—the Scripture to whom John Hagee is alluding—who rejected Jesus not the other way around. Plainly put, Hagee’s spin is historical revisionism pure and simple.

I would add to suggest as Hagee does that the Jews are somehow entitled to building settlements in Gaza and yet excluded from the blessed salvation of the Gospel might well be the height of antisemitism, which he accuses others of. Worst still the notion that Jews in the twenty-first century are going to endure a Holocaust for the first-century sins of their fathers is as unbiblical as it is unthinkable.

Only a Gospel of peace and justice through faith in the one who died for both Jew and Gentile is potent enough to break the stranglehold of antisemitism fueled in large part by bad theology. Hagee is making some really outrageous claims against people and he ought to be called on it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”

(Romans 1:16-17)

For further related study:

John Hagee (Christian Research Institute)

Christianity Still In Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Robert Hunter)

What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 1): E. W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel (Hank Hanegraaff)

What’s wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland (Hank Hanegraaff and Erwin M. de Castro)

Modern Israel in Bible Prophecy: Promised Return or Impending Exile? (Stephen Sizer)

Christian Zionism in Action (Douglas LeBlanc)

In Defense of Zionism: Hagee’s Mandate for Supporting Israel (Kenneth Gentry, Jr.)

Beginning of the End (H. Wayne House)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)


  1. John Hagee, Should Christians Support Israel? (San Antonio, TX: Dominion, 1987), 125
  2. Ibid, 63
  3. Ibid., 67-68
  4. All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Blog adapted from the February 7, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.


The Fast Food Christianity of Paula White


I was looking at the list of people who would be praying at the presidential inauguration, and one of them was Paula White (Paula White-Cain) the notorious Word of Faith preacher.

White famously said, “when God begins to speak to you, you get up and go to the phone, because God is telling you $68.19 for the next 12 months, which happens to be $818. What Deuteronomy 8:18 says that God will give you power to get wealth”1 Well, this is “faith food”2 or fast food for millions of gullible people around the world.

She claims to have had a divine visitation in which

God gave her a vision of multitudes of millions of people as far as her eyes could see. In the vision, every time she opened her mouth and began to declare the Word of the Lord, there was a visible manifestation of the power of God – souls were saved, the sick were healed, and the broken were restored. Conversely, when she was silent, people began to fall into utter darkness.3

The message that she had to loudly proclaim was that “God does not want us to live in poverty or lack” for “He wants you to be prosperous.” Indeed, says Paula, “God wants you to have it all.”4

To have it all requires the sowing of seeds, so says Paula, “For the next 12 months I am sowing $68.19, based on Psalm 68:19, that daily God will load me up with benefits.”5 The magic in the numbers is breathtaking. Paula goes on to say, “$68.19 for the next 12 months, which happens to be $818.” Then she uses the pretext of Deuteronomy 8:18 to make her point “God will give you power to get wealth.”6 But, what is more astounding about this is how many gullible people find merit in White’s message.

On one occasion White said, “Today, I was in prayer and fasting and seeking God, when God said to her saying, challenge the people to give $66.12 according to Psalm 66:12.” Then she promised her devotes, “the Word cannot return void. When you put your faith with the Word, then you have mandated results.”7

Like other faith teachers, her formula for success involves speaking right words, and thinking right thoughts. Speaking of the power of words she says, “Oh come on Paula…are you actually saying that just because my mouth says something that makes it true?” Well, she answers her own question by saying, “I’m here to tell you, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying: Your words create your world” (Italics in original).8 Her justification is that “If God can create something out of nothing, and if we are created in His image, then if we can image it, or imagine it, then, so it can be for us.”9

She garners support not only through claims of revelations and visitations and prophecies—including by the way the prophecy that a child would be saved by a thirteen-foot angel10—but though specific claims of prophetic healing. Her healing claims rival those of Jesus Christ Himself. White purports to have seen everything from the blind receiving sight to resurrections from the dead.11

Tragically, the Devil’s in the details. To date she has not provided even basics to buttress her boasts, but her fame continues to spread from her church in Florida that she decimated to what she started now in New York and now she was featured in the inauguration.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further Study:

Turning Truth into Mythology (Hank Hanegraaff)

Osteenification and What it Portends (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century: Wealth and Want (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity Still In Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Bon Hunter)

What’s wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 1): E. W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of another Gospel (Hank Hanegraaff)

What’s wrong with the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland (Hank Hanegraaff and Erwin M. de Castro)


  1. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon 2003, November 14, 2003
  2. Paula White Ministries, “Paula’s Life Story.”
  3. Ibid.
  4. Paula White Ministries, “Follow God’s Principles ‘To Have it All’
  5. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon, November 4, 2003.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord Praise-A-Thon, April 6, 2005
  8. Paul White Ministries, “Understanding the Power of Words Over Your Money.”
  9. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, February 6, 2004
  10. Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, June 10, 2003.
  11. White says, “I’ve seen blinded eyes open and I’ve laid hands on women where they’ve removed the womb and fallopian tube only to go back see them holding twins and I’ve watch as they pronounced people dead only to see them praising God in our church after laying hands and calling forth life back into them and I preached the Gospel on every continent and seen over a million people come to the lord Jesus Christ” (Trinity Broadcasting Network, Praise the Lord, June 10, 2003).

Blog adapted from the January 16, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Church, Tongues and Prophecy


Is speaking in tongues Scriptural or Satanic?

I certainly do not think speaking in tongues is Satanic. I think that there are people who prostitute tongues. We have a great example with Rodney Howard-Browne and Kenneth Copeland, and when they prostitute the gift of speaking in tongues, I think it is a very serious thing because now you are attributing something to God, which has nothing whatsoever to do with God. That is the quintessential definition of blasphemy.

When Paul says, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Cor. 14:39-40),* the apostle is pointing out that what we want to do is to edify, strengthen, and encourage the body of Christ. We do this by doing what we do in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, and not deflective to the body of Christ.

If someone is speaking in a tongue, in a language you do not understand, there has got to be an interpretation because you might be edified by what you say but those around you within the context of the church are not going to be edified. Tongues that are interpreted have the effect of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:26-33).

Unfortunately, there are so many examples in the church today of people who prostitute the gift and they make it something other than what it really is. As mentioned, Rodney Howard-Browne, a notorious Counterfeit Revivalist, and Kenneth Copeland, a leader of the Word of Faith movement, do that on a regular basis (i.e. prostitute the gift of speaking in tongues). When they were speaking together in dueling tongues in front of thousands and thousands of people, and the people thought they were very, funny doing this, what Howard-Browne and Copeland were actually doing was saying that this was the gift of the Holy Spirit being manifested through them but in reality it was nothing but sheer blasphemy (An audio clip of Howard-Browne and Copeland dueling in tongues can be heard on September 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast, which is introduced at the 25:28 mark.)

Is speaking in tongues at church ok?

One of the great texts to go to is 1 Corinthians 14. If you look at verse 22, Paul says there, “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.” So Paul is saying that if you are prophesying—and not in the sense of telling the future but forth telling, equipping, encouraging, exhorting, the saints—you should be prophesying because that’s for believers, but tongues then is “not for believers but for unbelievers.”

Paul then says, “If the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind” (v. 23)? The apostle is giving a rational thereabout why believer should not speak loudly and many at the same time in tongues in the context of a church. And now if someone gives an interpretation within the context—what is tongues but a prophecy.

If there is a tongue, according to Paul, you cannot all be talking at the same time, and loudly, and be disruptive. If a tongue is given within this New Testament context there has to be an interpretation because then a tongue can serve to edify the body of Christ. But in general what is the principle? The principle is “tongues then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers.” And then he gives a very strong warning about what happens when you speak in tongues in public and how that can be disruptive and discombobulating for an unbeliever and instead of reaching that unbeliever you end up repelling the unbeliever.

—Hank Hanegraaff

“For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says” (1 Cor. 14:13)

Learn more about speaking in tongues, spiritual gifts, and Holy Spirit in the following equip.org resources:

Is Speaking in Tongues the Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does It Mean to Say that The Holy Spirit is In You? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is There a Difference Between Indwelling and Infilling? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Are There Apostles and Prophets Today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Counterfeit Revival (Part One): Rodney Howard-Browne and the “Toronto Blessing” (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Counterfeit Revival (Part Two): Visionary Hoaxes And Revisionary History (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Counterfeit Revival (Part Three): Separating Fact from Fabrication on the Pensacola Outpouring (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Counterfeit Revival (Part Four): Modern-Day Mesmerists (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Counterfeit Revival Revisited (Hank Hanegraaff)

Counterfeit Critique (Hank Hanegraaff)

Questions & Answers on Holy Laughter (Hank Hanegraaff)

Scripture vs. the Spiritual Gifts? (Elliot Miller)

Fivefold Ministry Makes A Comeback (Douglas LeBlanc)

This blog adapted from the September 14, 2016 Bible Answer Bam  and “Is speaking in tongues for today?

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

In the News

Do Ministers Like Joel Osteen and Charles Finney Help or Hinder the Church?

Charles Finney?

Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister at Colonial Church, in Edina, Minnesota, wrote a column for Patheos.com entitled, “Meet Joel Osteen’s Forefather, Charles Finney,” offering a general portrait of the nineteenth-century revivalist preacher, and highlighting certain parallels with the twenty-first century Word-Faith televangelist. For example, just as Osteen markets his ministry for the masses, investing $95 million to renovate the Compaq Center into a modern evangelical church without crosses, stained glass, and religious iconography, but with a café, wireless Internet access, videogames, and a vault for tithes, Finney similarly used theatrical preaching, introduced the altar call (perhaps to recruit new converts to assist in his anti-slavery campaign), called sinners out by name, prayed in “colloquial language,” which many considered “vulgar” at the time, and utilized publicity and mass media to promote nightly meetings.
Finney’s ideas, according to Harrell, were derived from a commitment to natural theology. Seeing that God endowed humans with rational faculties, the nineteenth-century preacher believed God could be known through human reason, volition, and ability; yet, Finney also found the doctrines of total depravity and original sin senseless, and taught that one could attain perfect sanctification. Harrell is right to point out “Finney’s take is not the Biblical gospel of grace.” Finney simply took human freedom to an unbiblical extreme, and the idea of Christian perfectionism is simply an error.
Harrell, having mentioned Finney in a sermon, received an apoplectic e-mail from a church elder complaining that the nineteenth-century preacher was responsible for much of what is wrong with American Christianity, to which Harrell agreed in part; yet finds “heirs such as Lakewood’s Joel Osteen, while at times terribly misleading and deserving of critique, are also the very messengers through whom thousands upon thousands of people first consider the possibility that they matter to God.”
It is true that people need to know they matter to God; however, can the message of Joel Osteen direct them to the God who cares? Osteen is in reality a new generation of Word-Faith teachers who teach a theologically aberrant prosperity gospel. Just as Word-Faith luminaries like Essek William Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn propagate the idea that faith is a force, words are containers of the force, and through the force of faith man can speak into existence their health and wealth, Osteen likewise teaches, “Your words have creative power. One of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. And there is a divine connection between you declaring God’s favor and you seeing God’s favor manifest in your life. And some of you are doing your best to please the Lord. You’re living a holy consecrated life but you’re not really experiencing God’s supernatural favor and it’s simply because you’re not declaring it. You’ve got to give life to your faith by speaking it out.” [1]
Harrell appeals to the principle of becoming all things to all people in 1 Corinthians 9 as justification for starting a contemporary worship service at his church, but also values Finney, Osteen, and other megachurch ministries as examples of ministers following the same principle. Is this what Paul really had in mind? Yes, a church designed like a popular entertainment venue or shopping mall with a practical life lesson delivered by a proficient orator attracts crowds, but is that really why believers gather together to worship? Who is the object of worship?
Are crowds really the “proof”? Many flock to so-called revival meetings to witness so-called signs and wonders performed by revivalists like C. Peter Wagner, Kim Clement, Bill Hamon, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner,and other associated with Joel’s Army, a part of the latter rain movement that believes the church is presently experiencing an end time restoration of super apostles and prophets; however, what they are really getting is spiritual counterfeit, which utilizes hypnosis to produce altered states of consciousness to induce bizarre behaviors like being slain in the spirit, or sardonic laughter. One can even argue that the hypnosis, altered states of consciousness, and induced bizarre behaviors were at one time relegated to the occult mystical practices associated with Hindu gurus and their ashrams, but now have entered into the church by the rock star like revival preachers. Some churches may attract the crowds, but are we witnessing the transformative work of the Spirit, or simply reproducing Counterfeit Revival?
—Warren Nozaki
Christianity in Crisis 21st Century (B995/$22.99) by Hank Hanegraaff further expounds on the problems on the problems with the Word-Faith movement, and Joel Osteen in particular.
Counterfeit Revival (B614/$12.99) by Hank Hanegraaff examines false revivals led by teachers purporting an end time restoration of super apostles and prophets manifested in bizarre signs and wonders such as being slain in the spirit and sardonic laughter.
1. Discover the Champion in You, Trinity Broadcasting Network, May 12, 2003. Cf. “Promoting the Gospel of Self-Esteem,” and “Osteen’s ‘Gospel-Light’ Message” by Bob Hunter.
Apologetics, Uncategorized

The Dangers of Tuning into Andrew Wommack

Andrew Wommack is a popular Bible teacher whose ministry is extended through radio, television, seminars, the Charis Bible College and various other extensions of the Andrew Wommack Ministries (AWM).[1] A close examination of Wommack’s teaching, however, clearly demonstrates he is doctrinally aberrant.[2]

The most controversial aspect of Wommack’s teaching is its incorporation of Word of Faith theology. As Word of Faith teachers twist Scripture to support the occult belief that faith is a force, words are containers of the force, and through faith-filled words we can speak things into reality, Wommack similarly takes Matthew 18:18 out of context as a proof text for his belief that “We can actually bind up the positive results of sowing and reaping in a godly person and loose the attacks of Satan against them by the words we speak (Prov. 18:21; Jas. 3:5-6, 9-10).”[3]

Just as Word of Faith teachers pitch various “give to get” cons as a means for devotees to obtain financial prosperity, Wommack likewise teaches, “Those who don’t give financially to the work of the gospel will not have God’s financial blessings in their personal lives. On the other hand, those who do give to the work of the Lord will have an abundant harvest of finances.”[4]

Word of Faith teachers tell us that all Christians must be in perfect health because healing is guaranteed in the atonement; likewise, Womack teaches, “It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time (emphasis in original).[5] Moreover, he even makes radical statements like, “The Lord never told us to pray for the sick in the sense that we ask Him to heal them. He told us to heal the sick,” and “Jesus told us to heal the sick, not pray for the sick.”[6]

The binding and loosing mentioned in Matthew 18:18 is neither in reference to the power of words to create reality, nor the commanding of demons. Jesus’ point concerns church discipline. Here the “binding” and “loosening” terms “normally used for tying up or imprisoning versus freeing or releasing, provide a natural metaphor for condemning or acquitting in a court.”[7] Christ’s command is practically worked out when Christians demonstrate truth by condemning sin and confirming righteousness.

Although Christians are encouraged to financially support the ministries of the church they attend, there is nothing in Scripture that guarantees a financial return for our donations. Rather, the Bible sets forth the general principle that sowing seeds of unrighteousness will produce bad fruits, but sowing seeds of righteousness will produce good fruits (Gal. 6:7).

The Bible also teaches that sickness and death are the normal order of things in this life, but that those who have faith in Jesus Christ have the hope of being resurrected and glorified at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:42-58), and that believers will no longer experience sickness, suffering, and death (Rev. 21:1-4). Jesus never made any absurd prohibition against praying for the sick; however, James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, “Is anyone sick among you? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14, NASB).

Wommack’s view on private prayer languages is also controversial. Concerning 1 Corinthians 12:30, he writes, “Some people have used this verse to teach that speaking in tongues is not for every believer since the obvious answer to this question is no. However, this is speaking about the gift of speaking in tongues that operates in a church service. Not every believer will operate in that gift. But every believer (Mk. 16:17) who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit can speak in tongues in his own private prayer life.”[8]

There is good reason to believe in the perpetuity of spiritual gifts, and that the gift of tongues has not ceased with the closing of the canon; however, speaking in tongues is not normative. Scripture mentions a “prayer language,” which in a sense refers to speaking or praying in tongues (see 1 Cor. 14:14). Some identify this language with the Spirit’s “groanings” that the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 8:26 (NASB). It is unclear whether these “groanings” refer to words inexpressible in human language or to words unspoken, and Christians disagree whether tongues can be practiced privately as well as corporately. Those who believe that Scripture allows for the practice of tongues in private or personal devotion may refer to verses such as Romans 8:23, 26; 1 Cor. 14:4, 18-19, 28. Some believe that, based on 1 Corinthians 14:19, interpretations of tongues are unnecessary when spoken privately. Scripture, however, emphasizes that without an interpretation the “mind is unfruitful” (1 Cor. 14:13-14, NASB). It is also worth noting that Mark 16:17 is not found in earlier and more reliable New Testament manuscripts, so this passage is very shaky ground upon which to establish a teaching that all Christians speak in tongues. Moreover, the spectacular signs in Mark 16:17 were wonders associated with the Apostles but one need not presume they are to be normative for all believers (cf. Acts 1-28). Keep also in mind speaking in tongues is an issue Christians can debate but over which they must not divide.

Given Wommack’s blatant use of Word of Faith theology, we do not recommend his ministry.

For further study on related issues, we recommend accessing the following Web resources:

What’s Wrong with the “Word-Faith” Movement?

Christianity Still In Crisis: A Word of Faith Update

What’s Wrong With the Faith Movement (Part 1): E. W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel

What’s Wrong With the Faith Movement (Part 2): The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Answering Questions about Televangelists

The Perpetuity of Spiritual Gifts

Scripture vs. the Spiritual Gifts?

We also recommend from our bookstore:

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century


1. AWM, “About Us” (http://www.awmi.net/about_us), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

2. AWM., “Statement of Faith” (http://www.awmi.net/statement_of_faith), accessed Sept. 3, 2008. Cf. The Essentials of Christianity,” “CP0600 – Heresy and Aberration — What’s the Difference?” and “What Is a Cult?

3. AWM, “Matthew 18:18” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/mat_18_18), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

4. AWM, “Galatians 6:7” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/gal_06_07), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

5. AWM, “Faith For Healing Is Based On Knowledge” (http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/healing_knowledge), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

6. AWM, “Our Authority Releases God’s Power” (http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/authority_releases), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.

7. Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 94.

8. AWM, “1 Corinthians 12:30” (http://www.awmi.net/bible/1co_12_30), accessed Sept. 3, 2008.