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Faith ‘heresy’ wrecks lives, evangelist says
Benjamin Hawkins, Baptist Press
October 20, 2010
5 MIN READ TIME

Faith ‘heresy’ wrecks lives, evangelist says

Faith ‘heresy’ wrecks lives, evangelist says
Benjamin Hawkins, Baptist Press
October 20, 2010

FORT WORTH, Texas — Proponents

of the Word of Faith movement teach a heresy that wrecks the lives of many

suffering Christians, evangelist Justin Peters said during a series of lectures

at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“The burden that is being

placed on people is almost unbearable, and it breaks my heart,” said Peters,

whose cerebral palsy prompted him to embrace the Word of Faith movement as a

teenager.

“I get e-mails from people

from all over the world almost on a daily basis now, telling me how they or one

of their loved ones have been devastated by this movement.”

Peters, who holds master of

divinity and master of theology degrees from Southwestern, said the Word of

Faith movement is known for its message of “health and wealth,” often called

the “prosperity gospel.” Its teachers claim that no true Christian should be

sick or poor, but if they find themselves in such circumstances, they will have

a quick recovery. Peters said Word of Faith teachers include such notable

personalities as Benny Hinn, Ken and Gloria Copeland, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes

and Joel Osteen.

“This movement does a great

deal of harm to people,” Peters said in his lectures Sept. 30-31 at

Southwestern’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus. “If you begin with the premise that

it is always God’s will to be physically healed, and a person prays for that

healing for days, weeks, months, years, sometimes for decades, but the healing

does not come, then the question must be asked, ‘Whose fault is it?’”

Photo by Adam Tarleton/SWBTS

Evangelist Justin Peters, at Southwestern Seminary, speaks about the ills of the ‘prosperity gospel.’

The prosperity gospel always

lays blame on the sick individual, who is thus accused of hidden sin, a lack of

faith or not being saved, Peters said. This attitude, he noted, exemplifies

Word of Faith proponents’ doctrine of “positive confession,” that believers can

“literally speak things into existence” or make their own “realities” through

their words. With words, they can manipulate faith — viewed as a force or

object — to heal the sick, bring prosperity or even control the weather.

This doctrine, Peters said,

resembles the secular movement called “The Secret,” which boasts the support of

Oprah Winfrey. Behind it, however, are even greater heresies. According to Word

of Faith teachers, Adam was created in the beginning as “an exact duplicate of

God.” Christians also are “little gods,” and Jesus is not the only begotten Son

of God. Also, by praying, Christians give God permission to intervene in their

lives and in the world. Otherwise, God has no access to the world.

“One of the most fundamental

problems of the Faith preachers,” Peters said, “is that they blur that line

between God the Creator and us, His created. They demote God to make Him look

more human than He is, and in turn they deify man to make us look more like God

than we really are.”

While the Word of Faith

movement dresses its doctrine in Christian apparel, Peters said it does not

find its roots in orthodox Christianity: “The origins of the Word of Faith

movement can be traced back directly to the metaphysical cults, such as

Christian Science, New Age, new thought, Gnosticism, even some Kabbalah. So

much of what you see on Christian television today is not Christian.”

Since the age of 16, Peters

has had a deep interest in the Word of Faith movement. At that time, a family

friend, influenced by the Word of Faith movement, promised Peters that he would

be healed of his cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that doctors diagnosed

when Peters was 1.

Unable to do many of the

things most teenagers can do — like driving and playing sports — Peters latched

on to the Word of Faith movement but he never found healing. Only by the grace

of God and through the support of his family and church did he recover from a

bout of disappointment and doubt.

“Next to my salvation, and

next now to my precious wife,” Peters said, “my cerebral palsy is one of the

greatest gifts that God has given me. I have come to know the Lord’s ways

through my handicap that, otherwise, I would never have known. And if I have to

live the rest of my life with cerebral palsy, that is fine. I have got all of

eternity to live without it.”

After graduating from

Mississippi State University, Peters enrolled at Southwestern. For his theology

degree, he completed a thesis on Word of Faith theology, especially that of

Benny Hinn. Shortly afterward, he became a staff evangelist at First Baptist

Church in Vicksburg, Miss., and he began Justin Peters Ministries. Today,

Peters travels to churches to teach them about the Word of Faith movement

through a three-part seminar titled “A Call to Discernment.”

“I do what I do because I

love the Lord, I love His Word and I love His people,” Peters said. “And I’m

growing weary of seeing wolves in sheep’s clothing preying upon sick and

hurting people.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hawkins

is a senior writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth,

Texas. To watch, listen to or download Justin Peters’ message at Southwestern,

visit here.)