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Derek Vreeland

This paper was written by Derek Vreeland.

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Derek Vreeland holds an M.Div degree from Oral Roberts University. He is the assistant pastor of Cornerstone Church in Americus, Georgia.


Original paper. Included with the author's permission. This paper has since been modified and published in article form in Refleks 1-2 (2002).

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology

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This is somewhat of an assumption upon the text, because Scripture does not point to this soteriological procedure as a paradigm for the nature of faith. The confession of faith “made unto salvation” may not be a rigid formula, but it does provide insight into the nature of faith and its inter-relatedness to verbal confession. In quoting Psalm 116:10, Paul comments that believing and speaking in the midst of hardship are the pneuma tes pisteos – the spirit of faith.[70]  True heart faith produces an internal desire for verbal expression either through devotional meditation or prophetic proclamation of the gospel.  The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart.[71]  Confessions of faith as a verbal witness to biblical truths cannot be overlooked in Christian practice. Bruce Barron notes the devotional worth of positive confession,

 

Positive confession does have valuable uses.  (Charles) Capps, for example, encourages Christians to learn key Scriptures and recite them regularly in order to remind themselves that God wants to meet their needs, comfort and strengthen them and free them from the bondage of worry and fear.  Though some of the verses he selects seem to have been taken out of context, the general idea that God’s Word can conquer negativism and bring victory is a true and proper emphasis.[72]

 

The weakness in the word of faith doctrine of positive confession is the emphasis on the words themselves and their efficacious nature to create reality.[73] The claim that faith as spoken over human lips has the power to create contradicts the word of faith insistence upon God’s provision for human need.  It destroys whatever positive components the doctrine may contain. Ultimately, it breaks the most fundamental characteristic of God’s nature, his unique ability to create reality.

 

The reconstruction of this doctrine consists in making a shift from a fidecentric confession to a theocentric confession.  This shift places the power not upon the words of faith themselves, but on God’s sovereign choice to honor (or not to honor) what is spoken.  This frees God to operate in his sovereignty, which can be trampled under the current state of word of faith theology.  God is not compelled to honor the confession of faith by some higher spiritual law.  God is not compelled to move upon the behalf of the confessor because of the confessor’s “legal rights.” God is not overwhelmed by a (faith?) force and obligated to submit to the verbal commands of any person. The theological shift demystifies “faith-filled words” from mystical power to initiatory request and devotional worship. The confession of faith in this manner is only as powerful as God’s desire to act in accordance to the word spoken.  This takes into account God’s freedom to act in his preordained time. This theological innovation of confessing not just sin, but confessing the truth of God’s word cannot be lost in the process of reconstruction. Yet the spirit of the practice – which pertains to confessing statements within the boundary of Scripture – must replace the unfortunate practice of confessing things outside of God’s purposes.

The mystery of God is also incorporated by making a shift to a theocentric confession of faith.  God in the innumerable dimensions of his nature contains an element of mystery.  When a theological system removes all mystery from God and his action in history (as is the common assumption in the word of faith movement), that system ceases to relate to the God of Scripture.  Old Testament theology proclaims a transcendent God. The worshiper of Yahweh experiences a God whose actions defy human comprehension.  Worshipers stand in holy awe of the God who declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”[74]  From this perspective, confessions of faith can be made in a spirit of holy fear, culminating in a greater faith that is empowered by a transcendent God who controls the outcome. 

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