A Final Note on Kenneth Hagin

After my lengthy critique of his ideas in “the Believer’s Authority” I am well aware that there are those who would accuse me of “consigning the man to hell” – and I am aware of those Word-Faithers who would tack on an idea like “simply because he got a few things wrong.” Not that I wish to build and burn any form of straw man, but allow me to say a few things to attempt to dissuade the more reasonable objectors from thinking the worst of me and/or my methods…

1: I have said to my wife many times in the last few years that it could very well be that before the end of his life God broke through to Hagin and saved him. But I have said just as often, that the fruit of Hagin’s “ministry” and life give us no reason to ASSUME that God saved him at all, unless it was so soon before the heart-attack that claimed his life that he had no time to publicly recant… so to end this point I will add: It is not our job as followers of Jesus to consign/make the final judgement about whether anyone goes to hell… OR heaven! (it seems to me – for all their fear of “judging” – that way too many Christians are willing to wave there hand in front of the professing “believer” and pronounce that there can be no doubt of their being destined for heaven – without one bit of concern about the current and constant fruit of that person’s life…)… something to think about there, I would say.

2: public material is free game for critical review – be it positive or negative. It should be the assumption of everyone that anything anyone says in a public format is open to feedback, and the teacher and/or leader who claims to speak of the doctrines of the Bible should expect and desire feedback (in any form; rebuke, exhortation, refutation, correction, encouragement, etc) from fellow shepherds (and the occasional “sheep”) in the faith. No one should be surprised when someone is criticized for what they write – and Christians who have influence over others should welcome such challenges, since “teachers will incur a harsher/stricter judgement” and they should seek to keep their repeated errors to an absolute minimum… Hagin, like his disciple Copeland and his contemporaries Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, never seemed open to such critical examination.

3: Finally – and within the same vein of point “1” – the fact that I vehemently condemn statements of blasphemy and/or heresy should not cause the reader to automatically categorize me as “hating” Kenneth Hagin or as a “hateful” person in general… do I hate the rotten fruit and lies about God perpetrated by what was/is spewed from books and “ministries” like Hagin’s? YES. I despise anything and everything that belittles, degrades, and attempts to spit upon the honor and glory of the Great and All-Mighty, One True God, Yahweh. But it should not be an assumption of the reader (especially those who are so “charitable” and “positive”-oriented) that in acting that out I am committing the sin of hatred against another human being.

On that note, it should go without saying that I am open to any thoughtful criticism a reader might have of my own statements about Hagin’s book “The Believer’s Authority.” And even if the reader wishes to criticize my own method(s) of critique, I would be happy to discuss them… I would be completely inconsistent and hypocritical if I were not willing to do so, after all.

In closing, I encourage the reader, once again, to think critically about the things that they read and – especially in matters of theology and doctrine – to not merely accept the words of any man without testing them against Scripture.


Believer’s authority – Part 7

Side NOTE: for a refutation of Hagin’s words simply from Scripture – see an earlier post: “the ‘believer’s authority’ vs Scripture”

“The trouble with us is that we’ve preached a “cross” religion, and we need to preach a “throne” religion. By that I mean that people have thought they were supposed to remain at the cross. Some have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have backed up to the cross, and have stayed there ever since.

We’ve sung “Near the cross, near the cross.” Yes, we need to come by the cross for salvation, but we don’t need to remain there; let’s go on to Pentecost, the Ascension, and the throne!” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (pages 23-24)

These words display not only Hagin’s lack of understanding when it comes to the cross, but his disdain for the cross. His words have no harmony with our Lord’s:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” ~ Luke 9:23

Also, what is meant by “Some have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have backed up to the cross, and have stayed there ever since”? Well, Hagin gave us an idea by his very next paragraph:

“The cross is actually a place of defeat, whereas the Resurrection is a place of triumph. When you preach the cross, you’re preaching death, and you leave people in death. We died all right, but we’re raised with Christ. We’re seated with Him. Positionally, that’s where we are right now: We’re seated with Christ in the place of authority in heavenly places.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 24)

Now… to a minuscule extent, some of what Hagin has written here is kind of correct. The believer saved by the grace of God has been covered by the righteousness of Christ – they are justified before God because they are found in Christ… but notice the complete disjointedness of Hagin’s doctrine of the cross from how he understands justification and sanctification. To Hagin, somehow the Christian must “leave” the cross – because it supposedly offers so little – and “move on” to bigger and better things… does that sound like the language of Christ or His apostles?

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” ~ Matthew 10:38

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” ~ Galatians 6:14

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV)

Also, notice how once again Hagin has inserted this idea of “authority” into our saved and justified state without any Biblical warrant: “We’re seated with Christ in the place of authority in heavenly places.”

Compare Hagin’s presumptive distortion with the actual text:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

Nowhere in this passage is it suggested that the believer’s status of being “seated with Christ” automatically means they are endowed with the same “authority” given to Christ in the previous chapter (Ephesians 1). However, there is quite a bit of language that speaks to our subservience to Christ and our lack of grounds to make any form of grandiose claims for ourselves.

But Hagin continued with his absurd assertions by trying to convince his audience that people like me are second-rate Christians:

“Many Christians know nothing about the authority of the believer. They really don’t believe we have any authority. They believe they’re barely saved and they must go through life being dominated by the devil while living on Barely-Get-Along Street. They magnify the devil more than they do God.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 24)

I don’t know what kind of professing Christians Hagin hung around – but I’ve certainly never met anyone that fit the caricature above. (And, frankly, based upon later chapters of Hagin’s book – it is HIS position that “magnifies the devil more than God.”)

Notice again, though, the underlying presuppositions in Hagin’s statements. 1) he thinks that those who don’t “believe in authority” are “dominated by the devil.” 2) and he believes that Christians who don’t utilize his imagined super-power are “barely saved” – or at least act like they are…

But this is something of a random tangent, Hagin returned to his main thrust when he wrote: “The elevation of Christ’s people with Him into the heavenlies clearly points to the fact that we are to sit with Him, sharing not only His throne but also His authority. That authority belongs to us!” (Page 24)

Once again, I would point out the blasphemous equation of the believer with Christ Himself. Nowhere do the authors of Holy Writ make this kind of connection to Paul’s illustration of how and why our justification is possible and/or happens. Hagin’s assertions are nothing but the normal, FALLEN human ambition to have control of one’s own life.

Granting once again that Hagin does make a few statements about “being balanced” on pages 25 and 26 that could help us hope that Hagin is not intending to BE quite as blasphemous as he sounds – we must still conclude that Hagin’s ideas thus far in his book are Biblically untenable and full of heresy.

Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery / Sexual Immorality

A few weeks ago I wrote a post where I quoted Matthew 5:27-32 and Matthew 19:3-9.

Recently I heard someone mention that they had been told by someone that ‘Jesus’ words were meant for His culture and/or context’ or some such idea – basically amounting to “we don’t have to take Christ’s commands about divorce seriously in our day.”

I would ask the reader to examine those passages in context and ask themselves if Jesus’ words leave room for a restriction of the command to a certain time or culture?

Let’s approach it from a slightly different angle – in Matthew 5:32 Jesus says the person who marries a divorced person commits adultery. So what does God say about adultery?

“And you shall not commit adultery.” ~ Deuteronomy 5:18

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one… Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:11 & 6:9-10 (ESV)

Seems adultery is a pretty bad thing! And if you read the whole context of Matthew 5:32 – it seems to me that, if this command of God is not universally applicable, then NOTHING Christ said in His sermon on the mount (or in any of the gospel accounts, for that matter) is applicable to anyone today. That would include the things Jesus said about men repenting and being forgiven and/or born again – thus removing the hope of salvation from all of dead and evil mankind…

Something to think about, I would say, before blithely tossing God’s words out the window.


Meditations on “The Little Drummer Boy”

For as long as I can remember, I have appreciated the old Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Come they told me

A new born King to see

Our finest gifts we bring

To lay before the King

So to honor Him

When we come

Little baby

I am a poor boy too

I have no gift to bring

That’s fit to give our King

Shall I play for you

On my drum

Mary nodded

The ox and lamb kept time

I played my drum for Him

I played my best for Him

Then He smiled at me

Me and my drum

NOTE: I removed the “pa pum pum” portions for the sake of readability.

But I have grown to like this song even more as I have thought about how it is almost allegorical of Christianity – I have no idea if the original author intended it to be that, however, so the ideas I am about to put forth are my own (be they poor or helpful).

Obviously the introduction sets the stage for us as our character is invited (presumably by the “wise men”) to go with them and see the new born King.

But the portion I appreciate most is the last half… however as I worked on this post after writing this first portion, I thought it might be better just to provide my “meditations” – if you will – rather than any other thoughts. So here they are:

“Little baby, I am a poor boy too.”

Our mighty and wise Lord laid aside all of His riches and veiled His glory to come among us, initially in the form of a normal baby born to poor parents.

And we, not even existing before our conception – let alone deciding our own births – are poorer still. We have less than nothing in our rebellion against the Creator of the universe. We may have more material possessions and prosperity than that of Christ during His earthly life, but no matter what we may “have” we – like the little drummer boy – are poor, before this Lamb of God; and we are more than destitute before the King of Glory.

“I have no gift to bring, That’s fit to give our King”

And here our character (and we) acknowledge and proclaim the worthlessness of any “gift” we might offer to the All-Mighty One, who clothed Himself in flesh and weakness to bring us salvation, forgiveness, and justification…

Even the drum in his hands and the clothes on his back were provided by something outside of the little boy; and for all of humanity, we cannot even claim ownership or creation of our ability to think or act, let alone the “gifts” (material or otherwise) that are in our keeping.

But in the presence of this oh so “normal” and weak-seaming Mighty One, the awe of God’s goodness inspires the boy’s next thought:

“Shall I play for you, On my drum? … I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him… Then He smiled at me – Me and my drum”

And even in the creaturely weakness that corrupts and hinders us, the one who became weak to bring a people to Himself – begins to provide for us His strength that was manifested in His weakness. He fills and mends those things He gave to us that we wrongfully emptied and broke – and inspires us to take them up as He intended in our Hope to make Him smile…


The Office of Apostle

Thanks (I think/believe) to a lot of uneducated, fanciful interpretational methods that were produced by proto-Pentecostal movements there is a lot of confusion about the office of apostle among a majority of professing Christians in our day.

And even within the more orthodox strains of the “charismatic” movement I have heard some odd explanations of how we should view the office today.

Little “a” apostles vs Capital “A” Apostles(?)

One thing I’ve heard from an individual who is more orthodox than those within the “New Apostolic Reformation” (a movement full of self-appointed “apostles” and self-proclaimed “prophets”), is that we should have a concept of two different “kinds” of apostles – the more authoritative, ancient Apostles and the less authoritative, modern apostles, if you will.

But does Scripture give warrant or precedent to this idea?

Well, one of the few epistles that mention anything generic about “apostles” in a teaching context is 1 Corinthians:

“Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you still a more excellent way…” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV)

NOTE: I encourage the reader to visit the entire context of this passage – and especially to read the following chapter, as Paul has told us it contains instruction on a “more excellent” way of living in the light of God’s mighty work on our behalf.

Though the passage (quoted above) in 1 Corinthians contains mention of “apostles” within the larger context of God’s gifts to His children to build up and strengthen the church – see also Ephesians 4:11-13 – there is no clear instruction given here by Paul on what an apostle actually IS.

What IS an Apostle?

From the accounts in Acts and the authoritative nature of Paul’s instructions and commands in his epistles, one of the obvious things that the apostles were was leaders and/or authority figures in the primitive Church. They led the early followers of Jesus in belief and conduct.

But in the earlier portions of Ephesians we are given something a little closer to actual teaching on what an apostle serves as:

“…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…” ~ Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV) … (see also Revelation 21:14)

In Ephesians Paul informs us that the apostles (along with the prophets of the Old Testament) serve as a “foundation” for the Church of God, but in what way do they serve this purpose, especially for Christians today?

I would argue that it is by the writing of Holy Scripture that the apostles and prophets – subservient to Christ as the all important “cornerstone” – serve to build the Church (or Temple, if you will) of God throughout the ages. I would argue this based upon the temporal, “one time” language that is used in reference to the purpose of the apostles in Holy Scripture – you only build the foundation of a building once. Also, as far as I can tell, most references to true “apostles” in Scripture and the ancient church fathers usually put in the qualifier of “the twelve.”

None of these texts so far, however, give us any specific teaching on how to identify an “apostle” – so what is it that makes someone an apostle?

The Criteria of an Apostle

I would suggest to the reader that there is one primary, time honored “criterion” for how we Biblically identify an apostle of Jesus Christ: an apostle is a man commissioned to preach the gospel by Christ Himself.

We see this exemplified in Acts 1:15-22, and the beginning of Galatians where Paul’s writing is undergirded by an explanation and outlining of his call and experience in becoming “the apostle to the Gentiles” by the commission of the risen Christ Himself… there is also a short reference to this by Paul in1 Corinthians 15:8-9. Also, throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts, there is no reference to “apostles” outside the twelve disciples who specifically participated in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

However, even if there are a few generic references to those who hold the office of apostle in the Church throughout the New Testament, this does not demand that the traditional criterion above is faulty – and thus require we assume some form of the office exists today. Why? Because, although 1 Corinthians 15:6-7 does not exactly say when Jesus appeared to the groups specified, this type of evidence for “apostles” outside the twelve and Paul still falls under the category of the office only being given to individuals who interacted directly with the risen Christ (and I think it is significant to note that except for Paul, all of these individuals interacted “physically” – I.e. Not in a vision – with Him in the presence of others who did likewise).

Another traditional criterion of true, orthodox and ancient Christianity is that the apostles had authority and power by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture (as I have said above, I would also argue this tradition from the text itself). What they said and wrote was authoritative as coming from God – just like the prophets of the Old Testament. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Side NOTE: it can even be argued that every book of the New Testament is of Apostolic origin – the authors of Mark, Luke, Acts, and Hebrews all having clear connections to one of the apostles of Scripture.

That having been said – and no clear Scriptural evidence of any distinctive “levels” or “types” to the office taken into consideration – if one subscribed to the idea that we do have apostles today (or prophets, for that matter), consistently they would have to add that “apostle’s” writings or speeches to the Bible!

The last few paragraphs are a bit of a rabbit trail, but the ideas put forth within them have existed (been debated or discussed) since the days of the primitive Church, and no one among these modern day groups of “charismatics” seems to care that God’s people throughout history have had something to say about topics we discuss today!

As far as I can see from Scripture, anyone who claims to be an “apostle” (or prophet, as far as I’m concerned) today is either a lying charlatan – like those in the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR); or they have not actually thought about what Scripture says about the office – and thus no one should be listening to them anyway, as that person is obviously a simpleton and shouldn’t have authority over anyone.

To drive this point home, I would encourage the reader to examine Paul’s arguments against the “super-apostles” in Corinth that had apparently begun to accuse Paul of “walking according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10-12)… particularly in chapter 11 Paul contrasts his own actions against those of these “super-apostles” using incredibly thick and biting sarcasm.

One of the points Paul makes about himself is his lack of demanding resources from the Corinthians in order to show himself trustworthy to them… I have never heard or seen any indication of a practitioner/leader of the NAR ever discouraging people from giving their money to them – in fact they do the opposite, they have entire doctrines about why and how Christians should be wealthy/prosperous (just look up “great transfer of wealth” in relation to this movement).

For the reader who might be involved in the NAR, I would encourage you to think hard on the following words of Paul before you follow/listen to anyone who claims to be an apostle…

“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not surprising if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds…” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV)


Who is the “Thief” in John 10:10?

Now most people who have heard anyone quote/paraphrase the first half of the verse – “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” – know that most of those people they’ve heard quote it are intending the listener to understand the “thief” to be Satan.

The problem with this assumption is that nowhere in the text does Jesus mention “the devil.” Granted, the devil can fall into the category of “thief” that Jesus has created in this parable – but I believe we do harm to the text and misunderstand Jesus when we automatically interpret “the devil” in the place of “the thief.”

Side NOTE: I am fairly certain that Scripture nowhere attributes the title of “thief” directly to Satan…

So, who does Jesus have in mind?

Well, first off, if he has anyone in particular in mind, it seems to be any number of those within the decades before His Incarnation (and even within His own lifetime) who had risen up and called themselves the Messiah – trying to amass followers and liberate Israel from the Romans. (John 10:8)

Along with that, however, I do not think it would be too much of a stretch to think that Jesus also meant the Sadducees and Pharisees to fall under this category as well – although they may actually be closer to the “hired hand.” (John 10:12-13)

However, all of this is in keeping with the mistake of those who misquote John 10:10 in reference to the devil – it is missing Christ’s entire point in using this parabolic illustration.

The thrust and purpose of Jesus’ words is obviously HIMSELF. How HE is the door to life, how He is the Good Shepherd, and He is a faithful and mighty master. The thief and the hired hands only serve as a juxtaposing contrast to the goodness, faithfulness, and power of the Good Shepherd. (John 10)

To focus on the contrasting “images” instead of the subject of the parable (I.e. Christ) is an insult to our Lord – not to mention bad hermeneutics.

All of that said – it is true that held within this glorious example of the goodness, faithfulness, and intentional power to save of Jesus, there is an undercurrent of an assumption about the wariness we should have about false teachers and deceiving “leaders.” (2 Peter 2, Jude, Matthew 7:15-23, etc.)

So, is there a group that can fall into these contrasted to Christ categories today?

Well, yes, I believe it would be appropriate to put Kenneth Hagin, Jeff Taylor, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Benny Hinn, Todd White, Bill Johnson, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Paul & Jan Crouch, Oral Roberts, Rick Joyner, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, and all other leaders and “pastors” of the Word of Faith movement and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) into the category of “the thief” who comes “only to steal, kill, and destroy.” And I believe men like Rick Warren, Robert Jeffress, Carl Lentz, and Brian Houston fall under the category of “hired hands” – not necessarily apostate wolves in sheep’s clothing, but certainly squishy and spineless on the Gospel.

Beware of such men and women, yes; and do not be ignorant of the devil’s devices and rebellious influence in the world, yes… but do not let those things twist your remembrance or reading of the Scriptures.

Christ is the Good Shepherd, and His sheep hear and follow His voice – because He is Able and Mighty and Faithful to save!


Some Thought-Provoking Articles by Kevin DeYoung

I believe active, critical thought is an absolute necessity for a follower of Christ to practice while consuming any form of media. A Christian’s worldview should effect not only how the view things, but what they choose to view.

This last August (2017) Kevin DeYoung made some very important and accurate observations about American Christianity and its inability to THINK about what it consumes – let alone offers praise for…

And his first post was: “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones”

Which spawned a firestorm that caused him to write this incredibly good and pointed piece: “One More Time on ‘Game of Thrones'”

And since it is based from the same topic… I thought I’d also share this article posted at Desiring God in June of 2014 that I found amazingly helpful and convicting at the time: “Twelve Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones'”