OF RELIGION Field Guide to the


The Claims


The Word Faith movement is a branch of the general Charismatic movement. (See the Field Guide article on Pentecostal/Charismatic: What’s the Difference? for an explanation of what the Charismatic movement is all about.) Not all Charismatics accept Word Faith teachings. But Word Faith Charismatic teachers have, in the past decade, become the most publicly prominent representatives of the Charismatic movement. Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the most powerful and pervasive of the televangelistic outreaches in American religion, features and promotes Word Faith teachers almost exclusively.


Teachers in the Word Faith movement (sometimes called "Word of Faith" movement) claim that the Bible promises perfect health and unlimited prosperity to all believers. Therefore if any believers are sick or in poverty, it must be because they do not understand how to "appropriate" these promises for themselves. According to Word Faith teachers, the way to appropriate that health and wealth is through the "power of the tongue" to "confess" the believer’s faith in what he determines to be the Biblical promises of God. This creates, according to the teachings of many in this movement, a "legally binding" requirement for God to act. And thus, in their perspective, God Himself is controlled by the power of the human tongue when it speaks "the word of faith." Just as God created the world and all in it by "His Word," human believers are assumed to be granted the same kind of creative power in their words.


Such teachers warn their students to never pray prayers of petition to God with the conclusion "If it be Your will, Father." For that would indicate you haven’t studied your Bible well enough to know all of His promises. If you know the promises, they insist, you know His will at any moment, and need only speak that word. Anything less is evidence you lack faith in His promises. They also insist that their students should never "pray the problem," but rather "pray the solution". Speaking to God about your problems is tantamount, in their eyes, to not believing that God will take care of your problem immediately if you will only "pray the solution" exactly as you find it in the Bible.



The Allure


The prosperity teachings of the Word Faith movement are particularly popular with those who feel disenfranchised from the system of prosperity which many in the Western world enjoy. The solutions proposed by Word Faith teachers for a low standard of living do not include either hard work or education. The solutions proposed are a series of verbal affirmations, called "positive confessions," and a process usually described as "reaping and sowing" in which believers are encouraged to give money—"planting a seed"—into a particular ministry in the hopes of God miraculously granting them a "harvest" from that monetary seed.


Many Word Faith teachers even use a gimmick which they call the "hundred-fold blessing" to induce larger offerings from their audiences. They will declare that God has revealed to them that there is a special window of opportunity for an unusual blessing for those who will respond to the immediate request for donations—He will give back to any who donate a certain amount a "hundred-fold return" on their donation. This can particularly appeal to the person who is despondent over his finances—if he can only scrape together a sacrificial offering, he can hope for a huge return on it.


The health teachings of the Word Faith movement are particularly popular with those who have physical problems for which medical help has been ineffective. The solution proposed for ill health does not include improved diet and exercise, or anything that requires personal self-control, but merely "claiming" healing for any and all afflictions.





  1. The Bible does not offer unlimited prosperity as a guarantee to all believers in this life. In order to establish that all believers are entitled to unlimited wealth, scriptures must be ripped from their context by Word Faith teachers, and twisted to fit a pre-conceived notion of God's will. Only when true believers "inherit the kingdom" in the resurrection will they have unlimited prosperity.
  2. The Bible does not offer perfect health and freedom from injury to all who believe. Only in the resurrection will believers have such perfection. Although there are miraculous healings described in the scriptures, many great servants of God have suffered injury or illness, with no instantaneous relief.

    Word Faith teachers often insist that believers must "confess" that they are healed from all affliction even though all of the symptoms of such affliction, such as cancer or diabetes, are still present. And they must avoid any mention of these symptoms lest they hinder the reality of their healing from "manifesting."

    Some believers are thereby convinced to abandon all conventional methods of dealing with such afflictions, such as taking insulin for diabetes. And many others, who are unable to experience healing despite their dedicated, positive confession, are led to the point of despair because they assume that the lack of healing indicates a deficiency in their faith.
  3. Healings among Word Faith believers are frequently described as "gradual," and it is even declared possible for those who believe that they have been healed to "lose their healing" if they falter in their positive confession. There is no indication anywhere in scripture that true, divine, miraculous healing is limited by such stipulations. Every instance of a miraculous healing actually described in the Bible is instantaneous, and the recipient does not do anything to "maintain" the healing. It is permanent.

    People in modern times do, indeed, "get better gradually" at times in a way that seems to indicate that God did intervene in their circumstances. This might include lessening of pain or a speedier recovery than was expected by medical doctors. But this is not the same thing as dogmatically claming the sort of instantaneous divine healing administered by Jesus and Paul and Peter—while the reality is that the healing is not at all of the sort experienced by those touched by Jesus, Paul, and Peter.
  4. The Bible does admonish believers to be generous to others, and to serve God by investing their resources of time, money, and goods into worthy causes such as helping the poor and spreading the Gospel. But nothing in the Bible supports the notion that donation of money to a particular teacher or group binds God to a promise to financially bless the donor with increase.
  5. The concept, as evidenced by the notion of a "hundred-fold blessing" for response to a plea for funds by a ministry, that God can be regularly counted on to intervene with financial miracles, appeals to precisely the same attitude in people that causes them to be drawn to casino gambling or buying lottery tickets. Christians can surely rely on God to intervene at times in their circumstances in times of crisis. But the promise by a televangelist that God is bound by the televangelist's words to do a financial miracle for everyone in the audience during a given telethon is pure presumptuousness on the part of such televangelists.
  6. The notion that God is somehow "bound" by the words of the mouths of fallible humans is blasphemous. God is sovereign, and can do anything He wishes any time He wishes. The true believer is a child of God and can come boldly before Him and make requests. But only God knows what is best for His children at any given moment, and what may be best for them is to deny their request. Just because they believe their request is based on a scripture which seems to "guarantee" that they are promised the thing that they are asking does not make it so.




Nuggets of Truth


Some Bible students have a hard time resisting the teachings of the Word Faith movement because Word Faith teachers do, indeed, focus on some scriptures which are ignored at times by other Bible teachers.


  1. We are told in the scriptures that, as children of God, we now have direct access to Him, and can "come boldly unto the throne of grace to make our petitions." Many Christians are indeed timid with their prayers. There is a fine line between boldness and presumptuousness. The Word Faith teachers definitely go over that line into presumption. But understanding that we need to avoid such presumption should not deter us from Godly boldness.
  1. Many Christians do indeed conduct their lives as if they are utterly convinced that God no longer interacts with His creation. They do not expect any miracles from God, they do not expect Him to guide them personally through the Holy Spirit, and they do not expect Him to intervene in any way with circumstances in the world around them. They view Him as a God who is "afar off," and although He will one day again send Jesus to the earth, that Jesus is only a figure on a throne in heaven at this point in time. Yet Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the End of the Age." It is certainly possible to understand that God takes a very intimate interest in our daily lives, and interacts with us, and intervenes actively at times in our circumstances, without insisting that we control Him with our words.
  2. The scriptures do not promise that every affliction that Christians will endure in this life will be lifted miraculously and instantaneously from them if they can just grasp the proper "keys" to such miracles. However, the Bible most certainly does claim that God can and does intervene miraculously at times to fulfill His own will in the lives of His people. And it thus admonishes us to pray for one another in such circumstances, and directs an individual who is sick to call for the elders of the church to anoint him.

    It is obvious from the letters of Paul that healing did not happen for everyone all the time. For instance, in one place he notes that he "left Timothy sick at Miletus." And in another place, he suggests to Timothy that he drink a little wine to help his stomach problems. These were both men of great faith, who served God mightily. No doubt such sickness interfered with Timothy's ability to accomplish as much as he would like in his ministry. Yet neither he nor Paul was evidently able to "claim" a healing for Timothy. At the same time, there is absolutely no indication that either stopped believing that God could and would perform future miracles including healing. Nor should believers of our time doubt this. God does heal, and even if the
    Word Faith teachers presumptuously insist that we can force Him to do so according to our own will, this does not negate the fact that sometimes it is His will to heal miraculously and instantaneously.







The following list contains the names of some of the key Word Faith teachers, past and present, with national ministries. Click on any underlined name to go to a short profile of that person in the Who's Who Digest here at the Field Guide website.


Capps, Charles


Cho, Paul Yonggi


Copeland, Kenneth


Crouch, Paul and Jan


Duplantis, Jesse


Hagin, Kenneth 


Hayes, Norvel


Hayford, Jack


Hickey, Marilyn


Jakes, T.D.


Kenyon, E.W.


Meyer, Joyce


Murdock, Mike


Parsley, Rod


Price, Frederick K.C.


Savelle, Jerry


Thompson, Dwight




Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this Field Guide website
is © 2001-2011 by Pamela Starr Dewey.


Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible for the source of any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.


Return to Top of Page and the Navigation Bar

Word Faith