Hyper-Faith: New Gnosticism – Part 2
Jimmy Swaggart Aug 2014
OVER THE YEARS, I’VE read testimony after testimony from dear Christians who have struggled to carry unnecessary burdens put on them by so-called “faith teachers.” These “Word” people, as they are known, have convinced a generation that when the believer’s faith fails in their formula to make God move, the Christian must do more, know more, and be more. That’s why this article my husband wrote is just as important today as it was in 1982 when he wrote it. I believe what the Lord gave to him will not only help you discern the spiritual dangers still associated with the hyper-faith movement, but also draw you closer to the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE WORD OF GOD
One of the basic teachings of the hyper-faith movement is that all Scripture is not the same. In other words, some Scriptures pertain particularly to those who are still in the realm of the “senses” (flesh) – those who are sadly unenlightened. They would even go so far as to say that the Apostle Paul demonstrated great lack of enlightenment in many of his experiences. I Corinthians, Chapter 4, is considered an example of this. The same can be said of all of the apostles in the days of the early church. Some go even further by including the Lord Jesus Christ in this category.
In other words, these teachers say that if the apostles of old (and even the Lord Jesus Christ) had the knowledge we possess today, they would not have been required to suffer many of the difficulties which they experienced.
In practice, only certain Scriptures are used by the hyper-faith teachers to support their contentions. Their basic difficulty with the Word of God is that they separate the Word from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In short, they have replaced God with their chosen Scriptures, rationalizing that this will justify their actions. The words of Scripture are deified – apart from the living God – and exalted into various “laws,” which bring the forces of good and evil into action.
They call themselves “Word” people – constantly quoting particular Scriptures, thereby convincing the public that they are very scriptural and very spiritual – thus making their contentions completely trustworthy. In truth, they actually deny parts of the Bible as revelation that is not illuminated with a higher knowledge. In practice, although they call themselves “Word” people, they rely on only a few selected scriptural texts. They have very little respect for the Old Testament, seemingly suggesting that Old Testament personalities did not have the written Word (or at least very little of it), so consequently they did not “know” very much. As a result, you will only hear them use isolated texts from the Old Testament in their teaching. They seem to completely ignore the fact that the entire framework of New Testament context (thought) is derived from Old Testament revelation.
Sometime ago a preacher made the statement that individuals today worship the Bible apart from God, who inspired it. At first his statement puzzled me, but after some thought I understood what he was saying. Basically, he was suggesting that individuals (such as the hyper-faith people) were taking Scriptures (such as Mark 11:24 or St. John 15:7) and pulling them out of context to make them a type of magic talisman (good luck piece). In other words, he was saying that particular Scriptures are taken out of context completely and are used to deal with situations, even though they have almost nothing to do with the present difficulty of the individual. These Scriptures are quoted over and over again – with the individual using them as a sort of club to force God to line up with their reasoning. Also, they insist that Scripture that does not line up with their way of teaching is (simply) just not relevant to today. Again, we emphasize that they contend that if individuals (such as the Apostle Paul) had had our scriptural knowledge, they would not have had to suffer persecution and trials.
Then they go on to say that we are more experienced in the Word today – and more “developed.” Consequently, we know more than the apostles of old. Some would even go so far as to include the Lord Jesus Christ among those who were “unenlightened.”
What does this amount to? In essence, the hyper-faith teachers basically deify the Bible – setting it apart from the giver (the Lord Jesus Christ) of the Word of God. They use it in a way God never intended. Most are honest in their efforts and anxious to help people. In truth, though, most of them know very little about correct exegesis (interpretation) of Scripture – all the while proclaiming themselves to be “Word” people.
A great many of their teachers are teachers in name only. They have absorbed a little teaching on the subject of faith – and automatically consider themselves to be faith teachers. They endeavor to draw aside followers after themselves with their misguided efforts. Consequently, this causes much difficulty in the body of Christ.
THE MASTER RACE (SUPERIORITY)
There is an air of superiority about these teachers, their teaching, and their followers. They seem to place themselves in a position above everyone else. They are the “new creation people.” They have “the knowledge.”
Of course, this is absolutely opposed to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Humility was the Master’s great hallmark. One of His last acts on earth was the washing of the disciples’ feet. Superiority and lack of humility are always of Satan. These never come from God. They reveal the worldling, the ego of man, believers in the so-called “master race.”
E.W. Kenyon may have derived some of his teachings from the German philosphers. German theologians exerted great influence on a large part of the Christian world just prior to World War II. Some of these were also Gnostics. This was the time when Adolf Hitler was propagating his doctrine of the master race – even insisting that his efforts were of God, saying he was a servant of Jesus Christ. Of course, his demented philosophy resulted in World War II and the terrible “holocaust” – the slaughtering of some 6 million Jews. Some of these theologians found themselves comfortable with Adolf Hitler, considering themselves (through knowledge) to be superior, or “the master race.” Their teaching, sad to say, influenced quite a few of their contemporaries.
The basic teachings of the hyper-faith movement incline followers to the view that they are members of a superior breed, or master race. They are told that they will continue to be members of this superior group – that is, unless they “slip” into using information from the “sense” world around them.
As a member of this superior mold (or master race) one is made to feel that he is entitled to all types of riches and rewards; hence, the “hundredfold” return gospel. These teachers do not seem to realize that to demand a hundredfold return from God on our investment is to again turn the temple of God into a den of thieves.
Basically, the so-called hundredfold return gospel – intertwined with a master race theory – has little or nothing to do with the love of God. It has little or nothing to do with a desire to promote God’s cause, or to give to Him simply because we love Him. At best it is an investment and a gamble. At worst, it is a deception perpetrated by Satan. At its core, it is little better than the Las Vegas practice of enticing people into gambling casinos with the selfish lure of “something for nothing.”
These teachers constantly hold the thought before their followers that their faith (or knowledge) will deliver anything they desire. Consequently, they must drive the largest cars, live in the finest houses, wear the best clothing, the best jewelry, and so forth. This is an image they have to maintain. It is somehow supposed to demonstrate their faith. They are, in effect, role models for their followers.
As a result of this practice, the followers tend to look to the Cadillac or the Lincoln (and other worldly trappings) as the mark of the individual’s (or teacher’s) faith. One of the principal teachers in the hyper-faith movement recently said that he was confessing a Mercedes Benz for himself and a mink coat for his wife. To hear this – considering the difficulties of the world and the millions who are lost – one has to wonder what it has to do with spreading the Gospel and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ abroad.
As we have mentioned, the basic word “Gnosticism” actually means “knowledge.” Not surprisingly, knowledge is the alleged foundation of the hyper-faith movement. In some cases the word “knowledge” replaces “salvation.” They seem to infer that man is basically victorious through his knowledge rather than through Christ. It elevates him beyond his basic position as merely mortal. He, in essence, becomes co-divinity with his Creator. As mentioned previously, this satisfies two perverted needs in fallen mankind: The need to be his own god, in control of all life.
The need to glorify himself beyond his proper place in creation.
So the key to the hyper-faith movement is knowledge. You will hear this emphasized in much of their teaching. Also as mentioned earlier, this is derived largely from the teachings of E.W. Kenyon.
These teachers (not infrequently) use words like “dummies” or “idiots” to characterize those who do not believe in their particular way. This, of course, is a demonstration of one of man’s basic problems today – the problem of ego. Man wants to “play God.” In actuality, he wants to be God. This is (always was) Satan’s problem too, and he has inoculated mankind with his desire for God/man equality.
Satan tempted Jesus to misuse the knowledge and power of God when he suggested that Jesus create bread out of stones. Of course, the Lord gave Satan the correct reply, but this same desire – to misuse knowledge – is prevalent today.
The hyper-faith people suggest that there was a basic lack of knowledge of the laws of healing and salvation until Paul’s time. Consequently, Old Testament saints (according to these teachers) underwent many unnecessary difficulties because of this lack of knowledge. Of course, this is absurd, but it is their excuse for any Scripture which conflicts with their misguided teaching.
Actually, there is a tendency to emphasize knowledge rather than salvation. It is as though one becomes saved, but then becomes more saved as his knowledge increases. This parallels some of the thoughts of Gnosticism. It almost ignores the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As previously stated, the hyper-faith people seem to believe that the Bible is a god unto itself, needing little or no Deity behind it. They seem to teach that the force of speaking the Word (and knowledge of it) becomes all that is necessary to bring about what has been spoken.
They appear to have lost the realization that true Christian belief is that the will of the Father and the words of the Bible are in perfect conformity; that they take life in us as we move in the knowledge of God according to the leading of the Holy Spirit – not in the bondage of a written formula that was separated and apart from our living Saviour.
When God’s written Word is apart from His person, a scriptural code of law is developed. As with any code of law, legalism must develop – and with it the resultant condemnation whenever the believer fails to keep one or several of the laws.
If you will notice, faith teachers are often heard to say, “It was your faith that failed. God can never fail.” Consequently, the believer becomes the one following the law to its maximum, and taking the blame for any ensuing failure. The law, or “formula,” always works! The only possibility of failure lies in our faith – as revealed in our confession of the words or formulas.
In view of all of this, they say we should lean on our knowledge, which will then control all circumstances surrounding us. These laws are impersonal and divorced from any relationship except that of their mechanical performance.
By and large, this knowledge removes the control from God and His will to an exercise of our will, using the formula (or law). The line between God and man blurs, and man suddenly seems to become a law unto himself. Of course, this totally ignores the fact that Jesus, although He was the very Son of God, totally submitted Himself to the will of the Father. It would seem prudent for us to do at least as much.
This “knowledge salvation” imposes a great burden on the believer. He mustn’t, under any circumstances, “lose his confession.” If he does, all the results of the forces put into motion with the confession will be lost. Kenyon himself said, “Action on the written Word of God brings God onto the scene.”
It would seem, from this teaching, that God is automatically stirred into action by repetition of certain words of Scripture. Consequently, the believer acts solely upon the substance of his own faith world – guided by specific laws, confessions, and formulas.
Continued in Part 3