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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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            McConnell’s second claim that Kenyon taught the dogma of metaphysical thought is that Kenyon taught dualism.  In the above quote, McConnell concludes that Kenyon’s phrase “God breaking into the sense realm” implies dualism. Kenyon’s phrase is much more consistent with Ladd’s theology of the kingdom, the inbreaking of God’s kingly rule into history than metaphysical dualism.[27] McConnell also claims that Kenyon’s doctrine of “revelation knowledge” is gnostic spirit-matter dualism.[28]  The allegation is that Kenyon held that “revelation knowledge,” i.e. knowledge convey by spiritual means, creates an epistemology whereby “the physical senses are of no value in understanding it or using it.”[29]  Kenyon does draw a distinction between “revelation knowledge” and “sense knowledge.”[30]  However this does not limit his epistemology to knowledge obtained by spiritual illumination.   Kenyon embraces the integrity of biblical revelation as the cornerstone of a faith-relationship with God.[31]  The distinctions between the two types of knowledge are drawn primarily to form a comparison to aid in the appropriation of healing.  “Sense knowledge” can only provide the information of the nature of the sickness.  For Kenyon, “revelation knowledge” comes from the Word of God to renew the mind and enlighten the spiritual component of a person.  This is not the mutually exclusive dualism of the metaphysics, but the acknowledgement of spiritual sphere of reality that cannot be touched with physical senses – a spiritual reality that is revealed by Scripture and not the power of the mind.

 

            The third claim by McConnell is that Kenyon promoted deification by teaching that God imparts His nature into the human spirit.  For example Kenyon writes, “By a new creation, we are partakers of His very nature. We have become heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We are the next of kin to the Son of God.”[32]   The language choice of Kenyon creates difficulty in providing an orthodox explanation to his teaching.  Kenyon finds biblical precedent for the phrase “partakers of His nature” in II Peter 1:4, “…that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…”(KJV). The question of unsound doctrine hinges on Kenyon’s interpretation of the word “partakers.” The word koinonoitranslated “partakers” in the King James Version is a nominative, masculine, plural noun from koinonos meaning ones who take part in as companions or partners.  It does not imply an ontological fusing, but a harmonious relationship between individual parties.  A better English translation would be “partners.” Kenyon chooses to use the phrase “partakers of His nature” and he uses it often in his writings. It can produce an unsound doctrine if it is followed to its logical ends, i.e. deification – which McConnell claims has occurred.  Kenyon, however, does not digress to the point of deification. Nowhere does Kenyon state that this union between the human and Divine nature produces a fused entity whereby a human being enters godhood. Instead, he uses the term “partakers of the divine nature” to describe the spiritual partnership between a person and God, the Holy Spirit. For example, Kenyon writes,

 

One stands mute in the presence of a fact like this, that we have in us God’s nature.  The thing that hurts is that we have never given that nature sway.  We have held His nature in bondage.  God has been a prisoner in us.  Paul was no more a prisoner in Rome than the Holy Spirit has been a prisoner in us.[33]

 

This passage illustrates Kenyon’s understanding of the nature of God as located within a human person, but not fused to human nature creating divinized humanity. Kenyon draws a contrast between “God” as a specified, individual person and “us” the individual people indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit.  The phrase “we have in us God’s nature” causes the raising of theological eyebrows and incites unfortunate condemnation by critics such as McConnell. A less pejorative phrase is preferable, but Kenyon’s use of it does not imply deification.

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