I just read about your encounter with the Word of Faith movement, and sat here laughing at your horrible experiences with "bible study groups" because my life story (at least as a Christian) is almost identical to your experiences.
I am 54 years old, and have been a Christian since I was 27 - and am extremely embarrassed to say that up until very recently was involved in and was one of the biggest defenders of Hagin, Copeland, etc.- and the "Word of Faith" movement. I even taught the stuff myself on a Public Access Cable TV show.(Unfortunately, I work a secular job as a meat cutter, and work like a dog just to make ends meet, and don't live in a $1M house,In fact, I am renting because I can't even get a home loan - nor do I own a Rolls Royce- I drive a piece of junk 88 Mustang ! SOME TESTIMONY OF PROSPERITY- HUH?)
I guess I was exceptionally vulnerable to all of this since I had never been to church in my entire life until I was 27. I had no spiritual training of any kind as a child. Never been to Sunday School, never even heard of salvation, did not even know I needed it.I did not even know back then that Jesus had been physically resurrected. I mean, I was ignorant as a bushman in New Guinea about spiritual things- I mean I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !
Then, after I got married, I wound up at someone's house visiting these people that my wife new (actually I had been tricked into going to a Bible study). Well, from there it was similar to your experience. I wound up getting saved a few days later, and started being "trained" by these folks with the bible study. the guy who taught it was a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center (Kenneth Hagin's School in Tulsa, Oklahoma)
From there, I started listening to all the faith teachers on the radio, and found my way to a church in my area that believed the stuff. I supposedly got "baptized in the Holy Ghost" in 1977- but never really hardly ever "prayed in tongues" . In all honesty, I never got that much out of it, and felt like something was wrong with me, because all of these other folks went on and on about how blessed they were by doing it (while I was bored out of my mind!).
After all these years I tithed and gave and gave and gave , and we did without allot of the necessities of life, but the only ones who I have ever seen "prosper" were the Pastors of the Mega churches who preach this stuff (Who consequently have the say-so over where all that money goes! While they claim to have it because they "really believe" and are "obedient")
I have been through divorce, remarriage, bankruptcy, and everything everything short of death for 27years, and I am totally worn out! The big time TV preachers just keep smilin' as they drive away in their Rolls Royces - and all the failure and stuff of suckers like me gets blamed on our "lack of faith", so that they are always in the clear - its quite ingenious, really! Am I bitter? I suppose so, in all honesty.
But, I am more EMBARRASSED than anything else. I am embarrassed to say that I was ever involved in this junk. I guess I checked my brains at the door 27 years ago when I got fascinated with Hagin and Copeland , and Capps and their teachings.
I have played guitar for 38 years, and wrote a few songs, and was on this TV show with four other believers , and we called our group _________. The show was mostly music, but me and one other guy from the group used to take turns closing the program with teaching. We both taught the same "name it -claim it" junk. The other guy recently died of a heart attack, and he was so poor that the Trustee's office had to help pay for the funeral. I didn't share this with you to embarrass the man's family or his memory, he was a sincere and precious man of God- but my point is just this: the stuff we were teaching just plain don't work- and it took me 27 years to get that through my thick head!
I really enjoyed your article- and commend you for your honesty. If more of us in Charismatic Churches would really be 100% honest WITH OURSELVES - I think there would be no Charismatic Churches in a few years! I may be wrong about that though, because word of faith doctrine is very appealing because it appeals to the worst things in all of us!
God Bless You Brother,
Raymond (not his real name)
I think we all have had the same experience of people trying to get us "baptized in the Holy Ghost" and sometimes those "get togethers" are down-right scary!
I remember when they did that to my first wife, they gathered around her like Indians circling the wagon train, and were all yelling different things. Most of them were yelling "Speak, Speak!" like they were holding a chunk of ham in front of a German Shepherd !
In retrospect, I am so glad that I never got my ordination papers, and that I never had a church of my own in which to teach the stuff I was wanting to preach at the time ! A year ago I would have said that Satan hindered me from fulfilling my "ministry" , but now I can see the sheer mercy of God in the fact that I didn't get to go "full time !"
THANK GOD I DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER FOR MESSING UP THE LIVES OF HUNDEREDS OR
PERHAPS EVEN THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LIKE SOME OF MY OLD T.V. HEROES DO !
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