Believer’s Authority – Part 4

Continuing a critical examination of Kenneth Hagin’s book: “The Believer’s Authority”

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“What is Authority?” – Chapter 2 of “The Believer’s Authority”

Now, to be honest, I could probably write an entire essay on the term “authority” and how it is used in the New Testament (as it relates to the disciple of Christ) – especially in relation to challenging the false assumptions and teachings espoused in pages 15 through 18 of Hagin’s book, The Believer’s Authority. However, I believe that Hagin’s presuppositions and questions are so shallow that anyone with eyes to see can easily point to the holes in his arguments and statements – as far as simple language and reality are concerned – and so I will not bother to waste time on semantics (unless a reader has questions to that effect – in which case, feel free to leave a comment, and we can talk). I will, however, address the passages of Scripture that he references in his second chapter and where necessary I will quote and challenge his conclusions.

So the first passage that Hagin actually quotes at any length and discusses in his second chapter is Luke 10:19

Here is the verse: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

And here is the verse in context (both are quotations from the ESV):

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” ~ Luke 10:1-24

Again leaving alone the semantics, there are a few interesting things about this section of Holy Writ that I believe should cause anyone to pause before buying the assumptions thrown at us by Hagin.

First there is who the phrase Hagin actually quotes is addressed to, i.e. the seventy-two disciples. Now, judging from Luke’s refrain from using the word “disciple” in reference to “the seventy-two,” (and the way verse 23 begins) I do not think this group included those who would eventually be called the apostles. However, that has little to do with the specifics of this point – aside from the question of why these “seventy-two” never appear again in Scripture, if they were the only ones these words (verse 19) applied to.

My primary hang up on this “who the words were addressed to” point is the phrase “and nothing shall hurt you”… that phrase most obviously – out of everything here – could not have been meant literally/physically as far as it’s broader application goes (I.e. to Christians today)… and, to an extent, at some point the words stopped being true for this group (especially if the apostles were counted among them), because they all eventually died in some manner or another – and the apostles at least (if they were included) were eventually “hurt” in many ways by others, many of them eventually being martyred.

But Hagin makes no attempt in pages 15-18 of his book to deal with these “problems” in the Biblical text. He simply assumes the words apply to him and begins to develop a doctrine entirely based upon that one verse completely removed from its context.

Now, one would think that I’d be happy that a few paragraphs into developing this doctrine he says “God himself is the power behind our authority!” (Which is true, especially in an appropriate understanding of the “authority” spoken of in Luke 10:19) But his next words point out what is wrong with that sentence: “The devil and his forces are obliged to recognize our authority!” (Page 15)

The primary problem with Hagin’s words is his use of “our.” This possessive view of what Jesus spoke of is part of what what Jesus rebukes in verse 20! Although a form of “ownership” (if you will) was involved in what was given to the seventy-two – Jesus left no room for development upon his words, and directed the thoughts of the disciples toward the great goodness of God and His gracious salvation.

But Hagin again fore goes a thoughtful argument for his idea and simply rambles off into a silly illustration about “delegated power” and how police officers exemplify his idea before mentioning Ephesians 6:10(page 16) as if that had anything to do with the false doctrine Hagin was trying to develop.

In the last half of his second chapter, Hagin provided an unverifiable story about himself that he seems to think proved his conclusions. After telling us about a dream and basically demanding that we believe his interpretation of it being a “vision from the Lord” (page 16 & 17) he quotes (in part, mind you) 1 Peter 5:8-9. I believe the entirety of the passage destroys his attempt to twist it to his own ends, so I will quote it for you here:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)

NOTE: the reader really should read the entirety of Peter’s first Epistle to have the whole context of what the apostle is saying in the passage above.

One immediate red flag is Hagin’s deliberate omission of the majority of verse 9 in his own quotation of the text(page 17). But anyone can see that Hagin CANNOT quote the text in full and maintain his false doctrine.

First, the rest of verse 9 implies that the original recipients of Peter’s Epistle were experiencing some form of suffering, and they should find comfort in knowing others in the Church suffered similar things. And Peter is using “the devil” as a warning for them to persist in the faith and resist temptation (whether it came directly from Satan or not) because if they did not stand firm, Peter reminds them, the devil (or even sin itself, if we take the analogy from Genesis) prowls around, looking to devour anyone who gives in to temptation… but there is NOTHING in the text that suggests that Peter expects his readers to go around making demands, giving commands, or even actively “battling” the devil to get rid of the suffering that seems to be somewhat attributed (at least in part) to him. We are simply to trust God for His ultimate deliverance, and be vigilant to stand firm in the faith and struggle forward in the Spirit’s empowering sanctification.

Now there is FAR more to the text than I can cover, but I think it is clear enough – having made the observations I have – that it has nothing to do with Hagin’s point on page 17 of his book.

Hagin again quotes Ephesians 6:10 as if it has something to do with his doctrine (which it might in his own mind, but certainly not in that of the apostle), and also tacks a quotation of 1 John 4:4 on to the end of his chapter(pg 18), obviously think it too – as out of context as it is – in some way reinforces his false doctrine. However, I’m sure the reader can see and reject the blatant eisegesis being used to substantiate something that has no Biblical substance.

So, to close;
1: I again implore the reader to demand a reason for why we should accept Hagin’s or any Word-Faither’s assumptions about these texts upon which they build their doctrine of the believer’s “authority.”
2: Never trust an interpretation of a text that ignores the ORIGINAL INTENT and CONTEXT of the passage and the author.

Finally, there is a short “prophecy” given at the end of Hagin’s second chapter(pg 18) that should cause any critically thinking and Biblically educated disciple to balk at Hagin’s blasphemous audacity.
After all of his poor “proof-texting” and eisegetical quotation without providing substantial reason for the belief he was putting forth, basically Hagin says “now I’m going to write some Scripture at the end here that assumes and proves what I’ve already said.”

The blatantly manipulative and/or “deceiving and being deceived” nature of the last paragraph of the second chapter of “the believer’s authority” alone should give anyone pause before swallowing Hagin’s kool-aid.

Believer’s authority – Part 2

A critical examination of the doctrine of “the believer’s authority” as taught by Kenneth Hagin in his book of the same title.

(NOTE: Kenneth Hagin recounts having changed and repetitiously “prayed” Paul’s prayers in The first half of Ephesians over himself many times… for fuller context; see “Part 1”)

“I spent about six months praying this way during the winter of 1947-48. Then the first thing I was praying for started to happen. I had been praying for “the spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph. 1:17), and the spirit of revelation began to function! I began to see things in the Bible I had never seen before. It just began to open up to me.” ~ Kenneth Hagin, the Believer’s Authority – page 10

A question to the reader: does a “spirit” (when in reference to a human being) have to be “activated” or “accessed” in order to “function,” so to speak? And, if so, why isn’t there clear instruction in Scripture for this practice?

Another thing I will put out there for the reader to ponder; I personally always retranslate phrases like “I began to see things in the Bible I had never seen before” and “it[the Bible] just began to open up to me” as actually meaning something along the lines of “now the text doesn’t actually say what I’m about to tell you, but…”

Think about it, especially when coming from someone who’d supposedly been teaching the Bible for many years (14 in Hagin’s case – pg 11), why should we trust them when they begin to teach something diametrically opposed to a normal understanding of the Scriptures?

For instance, the second actual bit of Scripture Hagin quotes in his book is Ephesians 6:12 (notice, he skips a massive portion of the Epistle before giving any exegesis… and supposedly his book is a “study based on Ephesians”) – he then goes on to blather and bluster about “our authority over such evil spirits”(pg 12) when there is nothing about “authority” even within the context of the text he quotes. Now, he tries to make it sound like it is by telling us that we must ‘think of this passage in light of what Paul wrote elsewhere,'(pg 12) but fails to give any form of direct quotation.

(Side NOTE: I would like to know who on earth the people are that “think that authority over the devil belongs to only a few chosen people to whom God has given special power”(pg 12) according to Hagin… notice again, no references or sources)

What he does do is try to reference “being born again” and tie that to this assumed “authority in Christ” without giving any Scriptural basis for the presupposition.

The same page(12) of Hagin’s book leads me to caution the reader about trusting the teaching of anyone who thinks they know so much about Satan and his wants and desires. Where is it told us in Scripture what “the devil” does and does not want us to know or do? Again, I plead with the reader not to allow wolves like Hagin the ground for their presuppositions that have no basis in Scripture.

Although we are told in Ephesians 6 that as disciples of Christ we now primarily wrestle/struggle (notice there is no concept of “overwhelming victory” in the passage – it simply mentions the act of “striving against”) against “spiritual forces,” there is no reason to assume that the evil thoughts and schemes of men are not also in view here – do we not face such “spiritual darkness” when we preach the Gospel to a hostile crowd and call upon the Holy Spirit to make dead men alive?

In any case, the next passage of Scripture that Hagin quotes is Ephesians 1:3.

“Ephesians 1:3 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us [the whole Church] with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.The American Standard Version renders “all spiritual blessings” as “every spiritual blessing.” This means every spiritual blessing there is. In Christ, all spiritual blessings belong to us. Authority belongs to us whether we realize it or not. But just knowing this isn’t enough. It’s knowledge acted upon that brings results! It’s a tragedy for Christians to go through life and never find out what belongs to them.” ~ Last paragraph of page 12, “The Believer’s Authority”

First, I’m sure the reader has already noted the lack of context given by Hagin when he quotes the text. And he has forced an assumption upon the phrase “spiritual blessing” merely based upon the presence of a word that can be translated into English as either “every” or “all.” Where in the text does it say that “authority” falls under the category of a “spiritual blessing?”

Also, with all of the clear teaching given on justification and salvation in and through Jesus Christ in Paul’s other Epistles, why is there not more clear teaching on how this gives the believer supposedly supernatural powers of control over supernatural beings? Are we really expected to just assume the blessing and power of the Holy Spirit given the Christian to fight temptation, flee from sin, and do what is pleasing in the sight of God should include some vague notion of “bossing around demons,” as it were?

Obviously Hagin’s primary problem here, as usual, is in interpretation.

The purpose, extent, and descriptions of these “spiritual blessings” the Christian is given is explained in Paul’s following words starting in verse 4!

Just read the first 2 chapters of Ephesians with the goal of understanding what Paul’s primary point was and you will easily see that the wonder and glory of God (and His worthiness to be praised) in the salvation of wicked men and women through Jesus Christ is the highest idea within Paul’s words! Anyone who would try to make this about the “awesome power(ahem, given by God, of course) of the Believer” over ANYTHING is deceived and/or attempting to deceive others.

Thus far Hagin gives very little support for the presumptive statements he makes about his chosen topic. In future posts I will do my best to more thoroughly address the Scripture that Hagin tries to use – but for now I wish to press upon the reader, once again, the need to acknowledge (if not outright challenge) the assumptions presented with no Biblical bases by Hagin and those of the Word of Faith movement for their false doctrine of “the believer’s authority.”

Life Altering Books

I thank God for books, and try to read as many as I can. It is partly through books (extra-biblical and Biblical) that He saved me.
My wife suggested that for my next post I list and talk about some of the more influential/helpful books that I have read… And that is pretty much what is pictured above.

The first book that truly shook me to my core was The Holiness of God by R C Sproul. I peruse the book now and find the principles taught within it so foundational and simply primary to what the Bible teaches – but when I first read the book, around the age of 19 or 20, I had hardly ever heard the word “holiness” explained, let alone heard it expounded and taught as an essential of God’s nature. My almost constant reaction as I went to reference after reference of Scripture that the book pointed to was a jaw dropped in astonishment at how much of the Bible I was completely ignorant about. Though I have no “conversion story” that could indicate a time and place in which God saved me, I would almost be willing to bet that it was in the course of reading this book that He did.

Having soaked up so much profound truth from that book, I sought out more by R C Sproul at the library I frequented and came across the title Surprised by Suffering – and again God used Mr. Sproul to open my eyes to a gaping hole in my knowledge and understanding of Scripture.

Here I should probably note that my memory on the separation of time between reading the books in this list is a little hazy, because at that point in my life I was always reading several books at a time, and it was around this point that I began to listen to at least three sermons a day that I found online – this was possible because I had no job and only attended a trade school two days out of the week, so I was in my room studying for vast amounts of time.

All that to say I’m not sure if I found A W Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy because I heard it quoted in a sermon or read it quoted in a book. Regardless, I’m fairly certain I read it fairly soon after Mr. Sproul’s work, and found it incredibly helpful and thought-provoking. Although Tozer rarely actually quotes Scripture and deals more with conceptual application, his way of thinking, I believe, is very convicting and helpful for breaking one of any form of mental stupor they might have fallen into.

Again, I’m not sure how I found J I Packer’s Knowing God, but it was extremely helpful in continuing my study of theology in the Bible.

Throughout the course of reading, studying, and listening to sermons, I had heard many people mention and quote a man by the name of John Piper – enter God is the Gospel and Don’t Waste Your Life. I had actually looked up and listened to quite a few hours of Mr. Piper’s preaching through the Desiring God website before I found and read these books (I think). But they were incredibly thought-provoking and convicting on their own particular topics.

I heard about Voddie Baucham and his book Family Driven Faith (which I’ve always thought would have been better titled “Faith Driven Family” 😉 from a good friend at the trade school I was attending at the time. I subsequently added his itinerant and pastoral preaching to my list of things I listened to regularly, and have also read nearly all of his other books since then.

Radical by David Platt, was incredibly helpful and influential in helping me to see the way our culture was effecting Christians’ practice of their religion – and it was supposed to, ‘cuz the book’s subtitle is: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.

Another impactful book I would add to this list is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a book that I would almost recommend that every Christian read at least once.

Finally – just because this article has already gotten way longer than intended, and I have to stop somewhere – I heard Paul Washer highly recommend The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott on numerous occasions and so eventually bought the book. I found it to be one of the best books aimed specifically at husbands and their duties that I have ever read.

Well, I could add a LOT more to that list – considering that I think I read more than a hundred books in the three+ years following my discovery of The Holiness of God – but again, I need to conclude somewhere; and not everyone has the kind of time to read that I did then and still spend sufficient time in Scripture.

So I will close with an acknowledgement of the sufficiency of Holy Writ, and a reminder to myself and others that – though wide reading is good and necessary for developing the brains God gave us – disciples of Christ must hold Scripture as the highest standard and be students of God’s Word above and before anything else.