THE WORD-FAITH MOVEMENT
WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
By: Victor T. Stephens
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)
The Divinity of Man
Word-Faith theology states that man was created as little gods. Three passages of Scripture that are frequently cited to support this belief include the following:
Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ..." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, You are gods" '? (John 10:34)
".... by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4)
Kenneth Hagin in Word of Faith Magazine states:
"You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth." (December 1980, p. 14)
The notion that mankind are gods is the same lie that lead to Lucifer's downfall (Isaiah 14:14); and his lying tactics are the same. As recorded in Genesis 3:5, this is the exact lie that Satan used to initiate the fall of Adam and Eve. Since then, in every age of human history, Satan has used his ministers to promote the myth of the divinity of man.
The International New Thought Alliance, an organization that also adopted the teachings of Phineas Quimby, states in their constitution and bylaws:
"To teach the Infinitude of the Supreme One; the Divinity of man and his infinite possibilities through the creative power of constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of the indwelling Presence, which is our source of Inspiration, Power, Health, and Prosperity." (Source: "A History of the New Thought Movement", By: Horatio W. Dresser, 1919)
Let's recollect the notorious Jim Jones who led nearly one thousand men, women, and children to their brutal deaths. This infamous. but misguided cult leader stated to his followers:
"It is written that ye are gods. I'm a god and you're a god. And I'm a god, and I'm gonna stay a god until you recognize that you're a god. And when you recognize that you're a god, I shall go back into principle and will not appear as a personality. But until I see all of you knowing who you are, I'm gonna be very much what I am -- God, almighty God."
(Jim Jones, quoted in James Reston, Jr., and Noah Adams, "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown", program on National Public Radio [April 23, 1981])
A shareholder of Jim Jones' blasphemous viewpoint, Creflo Dollar affirms:
"And if God produces man and everything produces after its own kind ... if horses get together they produce what? If dogs get together they produce what? If cats get together they produce what? But if the Godhead gets together and says, 'Let us make man' then what are they producing? They are producing gods.... You are gods because you came from God and you are gods, you are not just human... " (Creflo Dollar, "Made After His Kind", September 15, 2002)
Dollar's local sidekick, Eddie Long professes:
"I know who I am! And, and, see when you know who you are, wherever you go, as a god, as a King --- you have an entourage." (Eddie Long, "You Are Mighty" Audio-Tape)
Let's now consider the scriptures in their proper context and expose the errors in the Word-Faith teachers' doctrine of the divinity of man.
Analysis of Genesis 1:26-27:
Citing Genesis 1:26-27, Word-Faith teachers contest that Adam and Eve were created as "little gods". Kenneth Copeland states:
"Adam in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh"
(Kenneth Copeland, "Following the Faith of Abraham I", Tape #01-3001).
"The man (Adam) --- created in the image of God, like Him in every way..."
(Kenneth Copeland, "Fullness: God's Plan for His Family", BVOV Magazine, July/August 2004, Page 34)
Now, if God created Adam and Eve as gods, why then would Satan tantalize Eve with the statement, "you will be like God....," if she was already ranked as a god?
Adam was made in the image and likeness of God; which means he was God's paramount creation --- a reflective spiritual being that was finitely imparted with some of His attributes such as freedom of choice, sovereignty, wisdom, love, and moral values. "Image and likeness" does not mean an exact duplicate with the same omnipotent powers as arrogantly suggested by Word-Faith teachers. God specifically states in Exodus 9:14:
"...there is none like me in all the earth." (Exodus 9:14)
In Isaiah 43:10, God says:
"Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me." (Isaiah 43:10)
Jeremiah echoes God's supreme nature and power when he says:
"Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might.") [Jer. 10:6, 10]
Analysis of John 10:34
Word-Faith teachers delight in quoting the words of Christ in John 10:34 to submit proof that God created men as gods. As Eddie Long asserts:
"That's the reason why when you look in the mirror, you ought to say, 'Good morning God.'
(Eddie Long, "God Is after Himself", Audio CD from ministry)
If we closely examine John 10:34, we will discover that Jesus was not referring to men as gods in the context of divinity. In addition to the scriptures aforementioned, Jesus taught in the Book of Mark that there is only one God (Mark 12:29). In light of John 10:34, Christ was simply quoting scripture in Psalm 82:6 which was pertaining to the kings and judges (gods) in Israel. They were symbolically characterized as "gods" because God entrusted His authority in human officials (Exodus 4:16; Psalm 82:1; Romans 13:1-7). Although authorities rule as "gods", they are mortal men (Psalm 82:7; Jeremiah 10:11).
Unlike the Word-Faith teachers' self-proclamations of being a "little god", Paul never made such professions and considered this sort of postulation as blasphemous. The account in Acts 14:11-15 should provide a crushing blow to the Word-Faith's theology of the divinity of man:
Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabus they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in the front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabus and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitudes, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them..." (Acts 14:11-15)
It is unmistakable that Paul and Barnabus rejected the claims of the Lycaonians who referred to them as gods. They rebuffed these allegations with such abhorrence that they "tore their clothes"; which is a Jewish symbolization of disgust at blasphemy (v 14). To be referred to as ''gods'' was unimaginable for Paul and Barnabus. Paul said that they were ''men of the same nature''; which clearly means they can never be gods. God is an infinite being; whereas men are products of God's creation.
If Paul lived among us today, he would surely be in need of much clothing if he encountered the Word-Faith camp. In the process of ripping his clothes, he would likely say:
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness..." (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Analysis of 2 Peter 1:4
Another text of Scripture that is perverted by Word-Faith teachers to promote the divinity of man involves 2 Peter 1:4. Kenneth Copeland declares:
"Now Peter said by exceeding great and precious promises you become partakers of the divine nature. All right, are we gods? We are a class of gods!" (Kenneth Copeland, TBN, February 5, 1986)
If we read the entirety of verse four (4) through verse nine (9) using proper biblical exegesis, it will be disclosed that Peter was not subscribing to a "little gods" doctrine; but rather about the moral concepts that accompany salvation (Romans 8:3-11). When a person accepts Christ through active faith, an inner conversion process is commenced which delivers a believer's sinful nature from a morally corrupt world system to one that mirrors the moral attributes of God. Although Christians are "sons of God", they are not children by divine nature; but rather by adoption (Galatians 4:5-8). Jesus is the only person, the unique Son of God, who shares God's nature; and is co-equal with God.
With that said, it is worth repeating that ever since the first family, Satan has attempted to breed the lie that man was created as gods. Let's not tailgate the same error made by Adam and Eve --- becoming prey to Satan's lie of the generations that men are gods. Surrendering to this falsehood will make us victims of the "gods" of this age (2 Cor. 4:4).