Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pentecostalism is NOT the same thing as the Word of Faith Movement

I am generally opposed to negative posts, but a constantly arising issue needs to be addressed: what Pentecostalism is NOT.

Pentecostals are having a bit of an identity crisis because of decades of Christian media influence and a general lack of discernment on our part. I can understand when a poorly-researched secular writer lumps us in with other groups who share a doctrine or two with us, but unfortunately, many of our own can no longer detect the difference.

I am not saying that those in the Word of Faith (WOF) are not true Christians or that they are insincere or not effective in ministry. I simply want to point out that they are a different stream than classical Pentecostalism.

Though our Word of Faith friends share many of our doctrines, they also have many critical differences from Pentecostalism:

---Classical Pentecostalism does not embrace the "Prosperity Gospel" and its potentially materialistic ways; in fact--while we are thankful for God's blessing--Pentecostalism has a rather developed experience and doctrine of suffering.

---We do not embrace the metaphysical definitions and formulas of faith expressed in the WOF's "positive confession" doctrines. For example, the Assemblies of God actually has an official doctrinal position paper against such teaching.

---We do not embraced the tangled Christology of the WOF's "Born-Again Jesus" doctrine (that Jesus had to be Born Again in Hell prior to his resurrection).

---We reject the idea that God operates by His own personal faith, i.e. "God has to have faith that what He says will actually happen." God has no higher object upon whom to place His faith; he doesn't have faith in that sense--He has omnipotent power!

---Pentecostals do not embrace many of the WOF's healing doctrines and practices. We believe that God can and does supernaturally heal but we also keep His sovereignty intact, allowing Him divine prerogative to delay or deny such a request. We do not believe or practice that God must act upon our behalf because He is "legally bound to do so." Nor do we believe that the sick person has defective faith if healing doesn't come; this assumptive practice only leads already hurting people into condemnation--something that was never a fruit of the ministry of Jesus.

You may notice a subtle theme in these differences; many WOF teachings tend to empower and deify man while robbing God of His sovereignty and volition.

What do you think?


Kathi Sharpe said...

I think by your definition of "not's" and what WoF is, the vast majority of AoG people I know are WoF...

Tim Enloe said...

Very true Kathi!

Some of these issues are more critical than others, but they are distinct differences nonetheless.

BTW, I hope you guys are doing well--Rochelle and I pray for you!

Jonathan Wright said...

This was a much needed distinction. You wrote this in such a a way that the discerning believer will give a hearty "amen!" Thanks for your thought-out, thought provoking ministry!

Bryan Schwing said...

Excellent article on the distinctions. It gives me just one more tool to point those in my congregation that have difficulty with this point.

Most are strong against WoF, but they lack some understanding of grace, which I believe you have demonstrated here quite well.

We are quite a distinctive group aren't we!

In Christ,
Bryan Schwing

Mark Ryder said...

Well said! Thank you for a good - and needed - post.

Guy said...

Thank you! A very needed post!
In my experience WOF has so ingrained itself into the AoG that like Kathi said, it is hard to tell the difference

Steve said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the concise disticntion between WOF and Pentecostals. I find that there is a lumping together of PAOC/AG/COG and WOF and there are many from the former that don't know the difference and embrace much of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Right on the mark Tim. I do feel that we MUST establish a clear distinction between Godly Pentecostalism, and this doctrine of devils. You cannot attack the very fundamentals of Calvary, and still maintain any wisp of genuine Holy Spirit led living.