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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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A reconstructed prosperity is built on the whole counsel of God concerning wealth. This includes the blessings bestowed from the Abrahamic covenant and God’s nature to care for the needs of his children. This is held in tension with the biblical warning concerning the deceitfulness of wealth. Jesus clearly warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”[88] This tension between the blessings of wealth and the deceitfulness of wealth is maintained by devaluing wealth in the scope of Christian experience. Financial blessings are considered a part of God’s purpose for the church, but to avoid a gospel of greed that feeds the fallen nature’s lust, those blessings are considered merely an appendix. The superior blessing is right relationship with God through Christ.

 

Within this biblical realignment, word of faith theology can reprioritize social and evangelical concerns over materialistic egoism concerning prosperity.  The primary purpose for the blessing of prosperity is not the accumulation of possessions, but for the realized ethic – “love thy neighbor.”  This ethically reinforced doctrine values the sharing of wealth above the mass accumulation of possessions to satisfy individual lust.  Oral Roberts, a pioneer in the word of faith doctrine of prosperity, provides a suitable definition for this type of reconstructed prosperity.  He writes,

 

Prosperity is the possession of everything you need for yourself and loved ones with enough surplus to give to those who need help. If you have only the bare necessities, you are not prosperous.  And if you have all the sufficiencies of life but no more, that is not prosperity. But, if you have everything you need with something left over for the poor, that is prosperity.  If, after you have paid the tithe, you have enough for offerings to spread the gospel and help the needy, that is prosperity.[89]

 

In this definition, prosperity’s purpose is to meet personal needs, provide for the household of faith, help the poor and advance the gospel. Kenneth E. Hagin, Jr., pastor of Rhema Bible Church, understands the need to devalue material possessions.  He writes, “Acquiring material possessions is not the focus of Christianity. We are promised material goods, but they are not to be our focus.”[90]  This adjusted understanding of prosperity honors biblical authority and becomes an asset to the purpose of world evangelism. 

 

Looking toward the Future

            If the vitality of the word of faith movement is to remain, second and third generation word of faith leaders must enter the process of restructuring word of faith theology.  Pastors and ministers who have been influenced by the word of faith perspective cannot sit by and allow poor hermeneutics and unreflective theology to undermine a movement with such potential. Reflective theology must begin in the pastor’s study.  Solid theology must be preached for the pulpit. Pentecostal history has taught the lesson that charismatic movements begin in the furry of spiritual intensity that produce a raw and somewhat primitive theology. Only conscientious biblical reflection illuminated by the Holy Spirit can develop a “systematic” word of faith theology.  The art of doing theology within Pentecostalism requires a commitment to time and energy incorporating cognitive skills and spiritual sensitivity.  It is a practice that word of faith leaders must commit to in order to produce a solid word of faith theology.  It requires humility to admit areas of excess and biblical weakness.  It includes an intellectual fellowship with other theology streams within the Body of Christ.  The anti-intellectual feelings that have plagued the development of Pentecostal theology must be shaken off in the building of word of faith theology.  An attempt must be made to join the Pentecostal struggle to synthesize experience and scholarship in the pursuit to understand the truth of God’s Word and proclaim it to the world.

           

 


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