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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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The writings of E.W. Kenyon lack theological sophistication and, in part, reveal a departure from the most sound of hermeneutical principles. However, the whole of his teachings falls within the bounds of historical orthodox Christianity, on the fringe perhaps, but still within orthodoxy.   One teaching of Kenyon that is attacked and deemed heretical is his doctrine of the descent of Christ into Hell, which extended the sufferings of Christ from the cross into Hell itself.  Kenyon writes, “For three days and three nights the Lamb of God was our Substitute in Hell.  He was there for us.”[22]  While the errors of the doctrine can be identified, this doctrine itself does not fall out of historic Christian theology.  John Calvin taught a similar doctrine according to the Apostle’s Creed.  He writes,


Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death.[23] 


The doctrine, replete with theological pitfalls, is hotly debated.  And while Calvin and Kenyon hold the minority opinion, the opinion itself does not relegate Kenyon to heresy.


            McConnell claims that Kenyon held several doctrines that were refashioned metaphysics, three of which become predominate in word of faith theology,[24] namely deism, dualism and deification. Upon citing three passages from Kenyon’s Hidden Man, McConnell comments,


In each of these (passages), Kenyon claims that his teaching is not metaphysical and then immediately follows his disclaimer with a central dogma of metaphysics.  For example, when he speaks of “the great spiritual laws that govern the unseen forces of life,” he is espousing deism, the metaphysical world view that the universe is governed by impersonal, spiritual laws rather than a personal, sovereign God.  When Kenyon refers to “God breaking into the sense realm,” he is espousing dualism, which is the metaphysical view of reality that the spiritual realm and the physical realm are mutually exclusive and even opposed to one another.  Finally, when Kenyon refers to “God imparting his own nature to the human spirit” and God becoming a part of our very consciousness,” he is espousing deification, which is the metaphysical view that salvation entails man becoming a god.[25]


McConnell’s claim that Kenyon taught the “central dogma of metaphysics” is a false interpretation of Kenyon’s writings.  It reflects a less than accurate reading of Kenyon’s work.  

To claim that Kenyon espouses deism is simply ludicrous.  The God of Kenyon’s writings is the personal Yahweh, God of Abraham, the loving Father of the Lord Jesus and the biblical God who rules over the affairs of humankind.  Kenyon, writes,


Sin Consciousness has given us a wrong picture of God and a wrong picture of the New Creation.  It has made us see God as holy, just, austere and unapproachable Being who is ever on the alert to discover sin in us and condemn us.  That conception has made us afraid and caused us to shrink from Him.  The conception is wrong: He is a Father God.  John 14:23 says that He will make His home with us….When we know Him as a loving, tender Father who longs for our fellowship and longs to live with us, the whole picture is changed. [26]


This is far from the deity of deism. Kenyon consistently regards the personal attributes of God as primary and emphasized above God’s transcendent qualities. Kenyon uses the term “spiritual laws” to refer to biblical principles that appear constant in explaining the essence and activity of God.  Bill Bright uses as similar didactic in his “Four Spiritual Laws” in popular evangelical circles. The laws themselves do not of necessity imply an impersonal Creator.

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