Believer’s authority – Part 1

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

Kenneth E Hagin is often referred to as the father of the “Word of Faith” movement – a particular brand of the ‘health and wealth’ or ‘prosperity’ “gospel” – and I would submit to the reader that his definitive manifesto, if you will, was “The Believer’s Authority.”

If not in all cases, it is certainly within my personal experience with “Faith” people that the doctrines espoused within Hagin’s book are key and essential to these people’s very religion.

And so, in providing this examination and criticism of the book, I hope to prevent others from falling into the “Word of Faith” trap, and perhaps offer a light to help those who are already adherents a way out of that cloud and mire.

First, before addressing specific passages of Scripture quoted and statements made in the book, the reader must understand that, like all authors, there are a very many assumptions and presuppositions within what Hagin wrote. In reading anything – even my own words here – I urge the reader to think critically about the content of words and utilize what ever learning they have and resources at their disposal to test what they read. Just because someone makes a statement using a quote from something before it and then using similar language, does not mean their argument stems from or is consistent with what they quoted.

Secondly, if a teacher encourages verbal repetition and memorization or adjustment of a portion of Scripture with no emphasis toward critical thinking and study, be very wary of that teacher. For instance, in the first chapter (page 11) of the “Believer’s Authority” Hagin tells about how he “personalized” the prayers of Paul in Ephesians 1:16-20 & 3:14-19 to “pray” them for himself over and over again – and encourages the reader to do so, without giving any Scriptural basis or reason for doing so… I might point out that the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:7 came to mind as I read this account and suggestion.

Finally the reader should always have this question as a base to examine an idea that is presented to them: is the focus and goal of this idea to glorify God, or to puff up mankind?

And with that we shall begin the Foreword of “the Believer’s Authority” (I am using a PDF of the book that I found online – according to the file it is the “Second Edition – Twenty-Second Printing 1996. ISBN 0-89276-406-6”

The Assumptions of the Foreword

Right from the outset, Hagin gives us the unorthodox and man-centered assumption that he presumably will prove throughout the course of the book; that is that “believers” have some form of undefined, supernatural “authority” given them to use on earth, a power of which they have been failing to take advantage.

He gives us this assumption clearly not only in the foreword of the book, but in the very first sentence; “Back in the 1940s, I asked myself the question, “Do we have authority that we don’t know about – that we haven’t discovered – that we’re not using?””

May I suggest to the reader that this is never how you should approach the Religion of God? Starting with a question that didn’t even come from Holy Writ is dangerous territory to dabble in – the Scriptures should never be approached with a presupposing request for information on a topic it may very well never address.

Now the concept of “authority” is addressed in the Bible, but again, that doesn’t mean we approach the text with a question that presupposes something, because that opens the door to a plethora of misinterpretations.

Which leads to my next thought on the Foreword. Hagin then mentions that he did “word studies” on “power” and “authority,” another questionable and ill-advised tactic that often ends in the “studier” just finding the answers their question assumes – especially when they have no grounding in or understanding of the cultures or languages the original manuscripts of the Scriptures were written in.

In short, the assumptions of Hagin’s book are clear and manifest in the Foreword. The reader’s first questions should be, “why ask this question?” and, “is there even Biblical warrant for it?”

Chapter 1: the Prayers of Paul

In his introduction to chapter 1 Hagin tells us that his book is based on Ephesians, but he only encourages us to read (repetitively) the first three chapters of the Biblical text (pg 9). (I would encourage the reader to read the entirety of the Epistle, if they would like to follow in depth.)

Then he goes on to point out Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians in the first three chapters of the Epistle, at which point he writes “the turning point in my life came when I prayed these prayers for myself more than a thousand times.“(pg 10, italics original)

His subsequent explanation of that I have already addressed where it comes to the vain repetition, however, the reader’s other concern should be that Hagin seems to have a very twisted understanding of what Paul actually meant by what he prayed. But Hagin doesn’t even bother to explain to the reader what he believes Paul means or why he believes it.

We are given a pretty good indication of the vague, superpowerish view Hagin has of some of the things Paul prayed for by his statement in the last paragraph of page 10 when he writes “the spirit of revelation began to function!”

His following proclamation of “I began to see things in the Bible I had never seen before”(pg 10) and his declaration that he “grew spiritually” more in six months than he had “14 years as a minister”(pg 11) does not help me trust that he suddenly gained a “better” understanding of Scripture. Especially not when almost immediately after quotes himself as saying to his wife, “I was so ignorant of the Bible…”(of 11); his ignorance is plain from his view and use of the text of Scripture.

The verse he works these claims, quotes/paraphrasing, and conclusions from, in context is this (I have emphasized the phrase Hagin pulled from the text)

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:15-21 (ESV)

From reading the passage in its entirety it becomes obvious that the “spirit of revelation” mentioned in verse 17 is one in the same with the “spirit of wisdom” – and, regardless of what you think this “spirit” actually is, it is obviously that it’s primary purpose is to grant knowledge and confidence or hope in who God is. The entire idea that Paul lays out in verse 18 and following is the awesome greatness of God the Father in His glory, who has granted us salvation and relationship/peace with Him through Jesus Christ.

The fact that Hagin just rips “the spirit of revelation” out of that context to claim some kind of “new” ability to “see things” in the text for himself just indicates to me that Hagin never had or gained a proper understanding of Scripture…

I will return to this subject later, for now I will leave the reader to consider the thoughts and questions posed this far.

~ J D White

All to the Glory of God

As I stand rinsing a cup with hot water this gentle, soul-quieting thought enters my mind: this is supposed to be done to the glory of God.

I pause for a moment as my heart and mind continue in the odd, quiet stillness they settled into after having unleashed my pent up anger, confusion, and sorrow that had collected in the corners of my mind over the last few weeks in front of my wife in the form of a weepy rant.

As I suspected my mind had done even before I walked over to take care of the dishes in the sink, I realize the Holy Spirit had placed his finger upon the answer to my problem and confusion: I was not truly worshiping.

I begin to process this and move to place the cup on the top rack of the dishwasher. This is to be for the glory of God runs through my mind again as the green ceramic clinks against the rack.

Somehow – beyond all my mental assent and lip service to the concept – I realize and ponder what it truly means to live in a state of worship.

I do a few more dishes before walking over to my precious wife, who holds our month-old as she stares out the dining room window. She turns to me as I place my forehead on her shoulder and touch her forearm with the tips of my fingers.

This is to be to the glory of God once again dominates my thoughts as I think about the God that created and maintains my ability to feel and observe the soft, smooth skin that He formed upon the frame of a woman He made in His own image for Himself…

This sort of scene has repeated itself far to often in my life. Our flesh, our remaining in this Fallen world, makes it so difficult to not occasionally lapse into a self-centered quandary of non-worshipfulness for days at a time (for some of us, unfortunately, even longer). Praise be to God for His refusal to leave His people to themselves. Thanks be to His Spirit for reminders and rebukes unto our sanctification. And glory and honor be to His Son for being a Perfect Savior…

Some Thoughts on Fatherhood…

I read an article early this morning that got me thinking about something that I’ve kinda looked at off and on since finding out my wife and I were going to have a child. (this is the article: — I found it very thought-provoking and would encourage anyone to take the time to read it and think on the topic)

Primarily, what I’m referring to is this: ever since starting to tell people that I was going to be (or, technically and essentially, already was) a father, I have at random gotten questions like “are you nervous?” “got the jitters yet?” and other such questions along those lines. I have usually responded to such questions with some form of a shrug or mumbled answer because I am well aware of how abrasive I can be when I answer questions with blunt honesty – especially when the answer has to do with my preference/opinion and/or my understanding of the Bible’s instruction about something (which is, of course, almost always the case)

Anyway, that to preface the fact that the article above caused me to look at my thoughts and emotions on being a dad and what I ‘want for my child’ in the light of what God desires and demands of me…

So here is one of the places my brain went, I have never really responded to the “are you nervous?” questions because they translate in my head as “are you worried/afraid?” (because I view ‘nervousness’ as just another expression of anxiety and/or fear) – and my gut response to that question is an emphatic “No, of course not, why would I be?” Here’s why: 1 John 4:18, Philippians 4:4-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and there are a plethora of other passages that have developed my conviction, but these are sufficient for sharing my thought.

(NOTE: I just did a ‘word search’ on for “love fear” and I found it very interesting the passages that were given to me)

I don’t wish to be offensive to those who have asked me questions like this, which is why I have found it so difficult to give the simple, 8-word response above, because I know I would have immediately followed it with something like “why would a Christian even ask me that?” Because, and this is what’s weird, the unbelievers I interact with have never asked anything of the kind (as far as I can recall – and it’s pretty easy to do so because I can remember all of the occasions on which and by whom I was asked these questions because they were so odd to me)… And the other thing I have found so bizarre, is that my wife never gets these types of questions, they have always been directed at me as the dad – as if fatherhood were scarier than motherhood (which puts a woman in an extremely close brush with death, at least in the process of giving birth).

But to continue, I have not once, to my honest self-examining recollection felt what might be categorized as even ‘concern’ in any of my thoughts about being a father before or since becoming one. And I primarily thank God for that because it is only by His gracious work in my heart in helping me to trust and love Him that such a thing is possible. But I also look at how He did that in the way He has helped me to view things. And I will list those things as such:
1) Ultimately, as with my wife, my daughter is not really mine to begin with; she is God’s first and foremost – I have merely been granted the privilege of caregiver to her. Matthew 6:25-34
2) My love for my child is not dependent on anything, and this is how that love can keep me from ever feeling any form of worry or fear about anything that would involve her. 1 John 4:18
3) God is ready to listen to me and help me with any concerns or needs that might develop over time, and thus I can trust Him for today, and have no need to think (except within reasonable bounds of good stewardship/servant-hood) about the future. Philippians 4:4-7

And I believe these to be appropriate and natural applications to life that any Christian could make with the broader parts of the concepts being taught in these portions of Scripture…

Obviously, if I were trying to teach these concepts to a group of people, I’d include a lot more Scripture and go off on several other very necessary ‘side-tracks’ – but at this point I am merely sharing my thoughts for those who might find them interesting and/or helpful… So if you’ve gotten to this point, thank you for reading, and I pray the LORD has blessed you in doing so)

Only by His grace – in Christ,

~ J D White

Originally written as a G+ post on 2/15/2016

2 Chronicles 7:14 – Observations

The context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 goes all the way back to (and further than) the beginning of chapter 6. The account is the finishing and dedication of Solomon’s temple to God: and God’s statement to Solomon after the fact is this-

“Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple of sacrifice.

If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

My eyes will now be open and My ears attentive to prayer from this place. And I have now chosen and consecrated this temple so that My name may be there forever; My eyes and My heart will be there at all times.

As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and ordinances, I will establish your royal throne, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man ruling in Israel.

However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples.

As for this temple, which was exalted, everyone who passes by will be appalled and will say: Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple? Then they will say: Because they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They clung to other gods and worshiped and served them. Because of this, He brought all this ruin on them.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:12-22 (HCSB)

Notice, how incredibly specific to the physical nation of Israel that this passage is. Also notice exactly what it is in verse 13 that God will “heal” their land from: drought, famine, and rampant, life threatening disease (that God Himself placed upon them for their sin).

When God moves to speaking of idolatry and the people utterly forsaking God’s ways – the punishment becomes far more severe; and “enduring,” if you will.

If the “spiritual” people (or self professed Christians) of the United States want to try and use this as a “banner text,” as it were, for their call to their fellow “believers” to pray for healing in America, there are a few things that should be pointed out:

1: Verse 14 is not a promise to the U.S. in particular or to “Christians” in general.

2: Even if it was a promise to Christians, America as a nation doesn’t belong to Christians. And a Christian, by definition, is already a repentant servant of God, so is practically incapable of following the “if” in verse 14 because they have, and are(and will be) already doing that.

3: Which leads us to a final point: you cannot repent for someone else’s sin(although you CAN suffer the consequences of it).

Religion vs Relationship

“It’s a relationship, not a religion.”

This line of reasoning seems to be fairly pervasive in what calls itself Christianity in our day (be it nominal, heretical, or authentic). I say pervasive because it seems to me that the mindset that wants to use this phrase of their “faith” – another word used to avoid and/or mask “religion” – is generally also somewhat or VERY reluctant to touch such terms as “doctrine” or “theology” . . . Perhaps this is just within the range of my experience, but there seems to be a connection to me.

Allow me to first debunk the juvenile “it is a relationship” phrase.

1) I saw a quote on Instagram by Jeff Durbin on this very phrase that has a pungent point to it – it goes something like this: ‘…here’s the problem, according to Romans, everybody is already IN a relationship with God!  And that relationship is either in hostility with God or at peace with God…’ I’ll leave that thought alone for now to let you chew on it and just move on to my main problem – which is the etymology/semantic of the phrase.

2) has several points to it – a: Christianity, by definition, is a religion. Just because there are many nominals and legalists that try to claim the religion as their own does not mean true followers of Jesus need to remove the word as if it were inherently bad. If you must, make the distinction between “false religion” and the “One True Religion of God.” b: “relationship” at least in our day and country, could mean anything, and thus has no meaningful usefulness in trying to describe Christianity as a whole (although ONE aspect of it IS a relationship of peace with God instead of the original hostility). Also, a relationship – at least what is viewed as a good one in our day – generally does not demand things of you(on the level of personal being). Religions, in many ways, demand your very life(on the level of very thought patterns and attitudes/beliefs).

There’s plenty more merely within those two areas that could be discussed as to the appropriateness and/or accuracy of the phrase, but I would like to move into the other consideration I mentioned above; the thinking that produces this phrase, in my experience, is pervasive and dangerous because it reinforces and flows from(often times, not always) those individuals and groups or movements that view doctrine and theology as nothing but dry, dead portions of “religion”(the terms always being negative and incapable of carrying a positive connotation).

Obviously it’ll be hard here for me to write anything novel, because many great theologians have addressed these ideas – so I gladly acknowledge those men of God that I will mostly be parroting here.

THEOLOGY: a simple quip which I believe I first heard from R C Sproul, will be an easy way to get across the point that those who reject the word(let alone it’s meaning) “theology,” are not only being silly, but inconsistent: “Everyone is a theologian.”

The idea of the quip is to point out that no one can make a statement about God without making a “theological” statement, for the very reason that the meaning of the word “theology” is “the study of God.” Thus, especially when speaking of those who profess to be Christian, their is no sense to be had in those people trying to reject “the theology of religion.”

DOCTRINE: the same can be said of doctrine – though the subject is not quite as simple as theology – so I’ll go ahead and place the Webster’s 1828 definition here for consideration:

1. In a general sense, whatever is taught. Hence, a principle or position in any science; whatever is laid down as true by an instructor or master. The doctrines of the gospel are the principles or truths taught by Christ and his apostles. The doctrines of Plato are the principles which he taught. Hence a doctrine may be true or false; it may be a mere tenet or opinion.

2. The act of teaching. “He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine Mark 4:2.”

3. Learning; knowledge. “Whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Isaiah 28:9.”

4. The truths of the gospel in general. “That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Titus 2:1.”

5. Instruction and confirmation in the truths of the gospel. 2 Timothy 3:10.

Note: I appreciate the 1828 dictionary by Webster because he often uses Scripture as a help to the definitions.

As we can see from the definition above, there is not much reason for serious Christians to continue the the degradation of the word into a constant negative.

Now, I am aware that this degradation primarily STARTED as a pushback against false or “dead” religion. But I do not believe that where it has come is a very tenable place for Christians to be in their thinking.

James 1:27 (HCSB)

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

I put out this quote to point out that even the writers of Scripture understood that, as followers of Jesus, we are participants in the one True religion of God. (To those of you who read Greek – I do not just yet – I would love to hear any thoughts on this passage that you may have.)

What am I getting at? I’ve heard too many people (including those in positions of leadership) who say things like “I don’t want any of your doctrine, I just want Jesus” who then go on to talk about a “Jesus” that is nowhere to be found in Scripture and preach about a god of their own making… And I believe part of that problem is fed by the ignorance and false assumptions that come with the mindset that I have tried to address above.

Thank you for your time. I hope this post has been interesting if not thought provoking for you.

May the LORD bless you.

Some Thoughts on Hebrews 2 & Psalm 8

I was reading Hebrews to my wife and daughter the other day when a section of chapter 2 jumped out at me… Before I get into that, though, I want to point out how easy it is to miss so much in Scripture when you don’t have at least a fair amount of portions of Scripture memorized (or at least concepts and summaries of those portions). I realized I’d done that with Hebrews when I read it that morning… There are so many quotations from the Old Testament used in explaining the gloriousness of who Jesus is. And I’m sure, from further reading, there is still so much more I’m missing from not recognizing so many of the other quotations permeating the book…

The reason I recognized the quote in chapter 2, is that I’d recently spent some time in Psalm 8 because I’d read several people using it as an argument for the ‘great value of mankind to God.’ I was somewhat repulsed from the man-centered emphasis of this concept of the “value” that we supposedly have as a basic ‘essence,’ so to speak. They mostly were arguing from Psalm 8:4-6, as if David’s thought was focused on some idea of God having done this for the human race because He so “valued” them…

The problem with this emphasis and/or interpretation of the Psalm is primarily that it ignores the entire thrust of the Psalm. And the second problem is that it ignores the interpretation of the author of Hebrews.

According to the interpretation of the author of Hebrews, the ultimate meaning of this section of the Psalm is a reference to the Lordship of the Son of Man, Jesus, the Messiah/Christ.

The wonder of what the Father has done for us in His Son, is the central theme of the beginning of Hebrews (if not the entire book). The humiliation of Christ is expounded upon in chapter 2, explaining that He did this so that He may better sympathize with and mediate for us through suffering…

And in the whole of the book the author gives quote after quote from sections of the “Scriptures” of his day (namely, the ‘Torah’ and whatever the Jews called the collections of the Prophets; in other words – our “Old Testament”), to prove the worth and glory and Lordship and priesthood of our great God and Savior, Jesus.

May we all learn to cherish every portion of the Scriptures that have been preserved for us, and seek the guidance of His Spirit in taking to heart the meaning of these precious words!