Word of Faith preachers are common on television and have massive followings. They typically teach that God wants his people to be healthy, wealthy, and happy all the time, and that speaking the right words, in faith, compels God to deliver on his part of the covenant.
Believers in accepted Christian doctrine disagree. They say the Word of Faith (WOF) movement is false and twists the Bible to primarily enrich the Word of Faith leaders themselves. Many of them live in mansions, wear expensive clothes, drive luxurious cars, and some even have private jets. The preachers rationalize that their lavish lifestyles are only proof that Word of Faith is true.
Word of Faith is not a Christian denomination or uniform doctrine. Beliefs vary from preacher to preacher, but they generally profess that children of God have a "right" to the good things in life, if they ask God and believe correctly. Following are three key Word of Faith errors.
Word of Faith Error #1: God is Obligated to Obey People's Words
Words have power, according to Word of Faith beliefs. That's why it is often called "name it and claim it." WOF preachers cite a verse such as Matthew 11:24, emphasizing the belief aspect: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (NIV)
The Bible, in contrast, teaches that God's will determines the answer to our prayers:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)
God, as a loving heavenly Father, gives us what is best for us, and only he is capable of determining that. Countless faithful Christians have prayed for healing from illness or disability yet remain unhealed. On the other hand, many Word of Faith preachers who claim healing is only a prayer away wear eyeglasses and go to the dentist and doctor.
Word of Faith Error #2: God's Favor Results in Riches
Financial abundance is a common thread among Word of Faith preachers, causing some to call this the "prosperity gospel" or "health and wealth gospel."
Supporters claim that God is eager to shower worshipers with money, promotions, large homes and new cars, citing such verses as Malachi 3:10:
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."(NIV)
But the Bible abounds with passages that warn of pursuing money instead of God, such as 1 Timothy 6:9-11:
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)
Hebrews 13:5 cautions us not to always be wanting more and more:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (NIV)
Wealth is not a sign of favor from God. Many drug dealers, corrupt businessmen, and pornographers are wealthy. Conversely, millions of hardworking, honest Christians are poor.
Word of Faith Error #3: Humans are Little Gods
Human beings are created in the image of God and are "little gods", some WOF preachers claim. They imply that people are capable of controlling a "faith force" and have the power to bring their desires into being. They cite John 10:34 as their proof text:
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are "gods"'? (NIV)
This Word of Faith teaching is blatant idolatry. Jesus Christ was quoting Psalm 82, which referred to judges as "gods"; Jesus was stating that he was above judges as the Son of God.
Christians believe there is one God only, in three Persons. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit but are not little gods. God is creator; humans are his creations. To attribute any type of divine power to humans is unbiblical.