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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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Faith Theology’s Exaltation of the Biblical Authority

Correction and theological reconstruction of word of faith theology is preferable to condemnation not only for its orthodox historical roots, but because word of faith theology consistently exalts the authority of Scripture. Faith theology is built upon a charismatic spirituality that values the experience of the Holy Spirit that illuminates biblical authority.[48]  Bruce Barron observes in his analysis, “In general, it is unfair to equate faith teaching with Christian Science, since faith teaching shows much more respect for biblical authority and the person of Jesus than do the ingenious but indefensible interpretations of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy.”[49]  In the vernacular of word of faith teachers, the issue is “the integrity of the Word of God.” This is the name of Hagin’s first step in the “Seven Steps to the Highest Kind of Faith.” He writes,


The first thing we need to know is that the Word of God is actually what it declares itself to be.  It is a revelation from God to us.  It is God speaking to us now.  Not only is it a book of the past and a book of the future, it is also a book of now. This book is a God-breathed, God-indwelt, and a God-inspired message…. So we see that the first step toward the highest kind of faith is to accept and understand the integrity of God’s Word.  The Word is of foremost importance. [50]


The integrity of Scripture finds its authority in God’s self-revelation in the text. Hagin’s doctrine of inspiration attests to his influence from the revivalist movements as noted above. As his evangelical/Pentecostal predecessors before him, Hagin elevated Holy Scripture to a level of primary authority in statements of doctrine and practice. 


Furthermore, the integrity of Scripture, and not subjective revelation, is the foundation for faith theology. In What to Do When Faith Seems Weak and Victory Lost, Hagin writes, “You are in trouble when you get beyond the Word of God.  That’s what bothers me about many of the things some people are teaching – “new revelations,” and so forth.”[51]  He continues with an account of a minister who challenged a guest minister on the biblical source for his message.  The guest minister replied, “Oh, you’ll not find what I’m teaching in that thing.  I’m way out beyond that.  I know much more than what’s in there.”  Hagin comments, “When they know so much more than what’s in the Bible, they are too far out for me.”[52]  Hagin’s epistemology holds to the primacy of Scripture. McConnell rightly concludes, “Hagin does theology just like the rest of us: right here on planet Earth, not in some superhuman state nor through some hot line to heaven.”[53]  And Hagin’s theology and practices of ministry begin with the Bible. Hagin comments, “God’s Word comes first.  Faith in God’s Word comes second. Feeling comes last.”[54]   Outside revelation, such as ecstatic visions or spiritual gifts of knowledge or wisdom, take on a subordinate role in shaping Hagin’s theology and the theology of the word of faith movement.


            The primary cause for theological weaknesses in word of faith theology is not due to a lack of respect for biblical authority, but in an ignorance of strong hermeneutical principles. The word of faith movement carried over the “anti-intellectual” tendencies of Pentecostalism that opts for pragmatism over traditional hermeneutics. Gordon Fee observes,


(The Pentecostal movement’s) attitude toward Scripture regularly has included a general disregard for scientific exegesis and carefully thought-out hermeneutics.  In fact, hermeneutics has simply not been a Pentecostal thing.  Scripture is the Word of God and is to be obeyed.  In place of scientific hermeneutics there developed a kind of pragmatic hermeneutics-obey what should be taken literally; spiritualize, allegorize, or devotionalize the rest. [55]


Hagin uses this loose pragmatic hermeneutic considering a more scholastic hermeneutic as unnecessary. At the root of each unsound doctrine or unbiblical extreme in word of faith theology lies a problem with the interpretation of the text.

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