“The Language of Faith”

Recently, after my wife commented that our little church really didn’t have money yet to build our church building she was puzzled when the man responded to her that the church actually did have the money. He argued very simply that any potential we have is also a reality that we possess.

When I piped up that this use of language turns subjects into predicates, I was told, “That is the language of faith.”

Really? Having faith, firmly believing, Sola Fide—these terms refer to positively speaking about what we hope might happen?

As the conversation progressed (or digressed depending on your point of view), I asked for some substantiation that allows us to blur the line between reality and mere possibility. This brother replied, “Abraham. He believed God, and started acting like a father before he was a father.”

“Wait a minute,” I shot back, “Abraham believed God’s revelation. He was clearly told that he would have a son. That was the object of his faith.”

The conversation ended amiably, but not logically, because these fellow Christians were wrapped up in at least one of the tentacles of the Word Faith, prosperity gospel foolishness. That brief interaction had all the marks of positive confession—make sure that whatever you say is always upbeat and positive because your words create reality.

Hank Hanegraaff has documented the links between Christianized positive confession and its New Age sire, and the connection is not hard to find. New Age teaching emphasizes invisible, extra-logical life forces that can be accessed by words—positive statements bring goodness, health, and joy whereas negative statements bring ugliness, pain, and sorrow.

Of course, as with most false teachings, this one tries to limp along with a superficial appeal to a verse or two. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Pro. 18:21) Solomon is simply teaching that words can help aid spiritual beings to glorify God or they can tempt spiritual beings to sin. He is not saying that verbal units by themselves somehow release their bottled-up creative life force whenever they are spoken. In short, Solomon was not saying that words are magical. He was (and still is) saying that words have the potential of really affecting fellow Christians or sinners by putting ideas into their minds on which they can act.

Positive confession is an entirely false doctrine. The Bible never ascribes creative power to man or anything in man. Rather, God is the only being with creative power. His words have power because of His being, not because of some inherent power in the words outside of the Speaker. (Heb. 1:3; 11:3; 1 Pet. 1:23; 2 Pet. 3:5)

More than that, the Bible repeatedly tells us to trust God and His Word, but never to trust our own words or ways. Men who trust themselves (or their own words) are called fools. (Pro. 3:5-7; 28:26; Isa. 26:3) The power of words is wholly derived from the ideas they communicate. Ideas are powerful, but even they only have power as they move men to act and think in certain ways.

If Christians are going to obey the Bible, follow Jesus’ example, or think clearly then there will be times when they need to say negative things. At times when truth is at stake, to refuse to speak negatively is cowardice and sin. See Jesus’ “negative confession” in Matt. 23.

Positive confession effectively destroys church discipline because discipline requires critical discernment, negative rebuke, and sorrow over the consequences of sin. It weakens Sola Scriptura because the actual verses of Scripture are not as important as the spoken positive confessions. And it discourages critical, scientific, evidence-based thinking which is not only necessary to interpret the Bible but is essential to defeat the poverty that so many who believe the prosperity gospel live with everyday.

“The language of faith” is one more term to add to the list of cues that the prosperity gospel is in your midst.

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About Seth

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other.
This entry was posted in Hermeneutics, Prosperity gospel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “The Language of Faith”

  1. Hi brother Seth, I wish you would have thought to say this to the man. If Abraham started acting like a Father, he sure had a funny way of showing it. After all he and Sarah did indeed lack faith to a point. Didn’t Abraham at Sarah’s instance go onto impregnate Hagar and God said because of that lack of faith that Ishmael and his descendants hands would always be against others.

    I like how you can see that this Positive Confession teaching actually has the opposite desired effect and is indeed trapping people into poverty. After all if you just “speak to your wallet” as Joyce Meyers has advised, it won’t get very full unless your actually work to fill it.

    Here are two articles I have written in the past couple of days. I hope you and your readers enjoy them.

    PROVERBS 18:21 – Are There Really Life and Death In The Power Of Words? (dedicated to Kenneth Shoebrook)

    http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2013/03/02/proverbs-1821-are-there-really-life-and-death-in-the-power-of-words/

    Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey team up to decieve Christians and Non-Christians into practicing Witchcraft Unaware

    http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2013/03/05/joel-osteen-and-oprah-winfrey-team-up-to-decieve-christians-and-non-christians-into-practicing-witchcraft-unaware/

    Since it looks like you will be dealing with this topic often, perhaps you should add our groupblog to your blogroll.

    I’m going to re-post this there because I think you make many good points. I tried to find a good breaking point where I could add a READ REST ON THE SITE link but I don’t really see a good one. But I will add two links back here to your site. Hope you don’t mind.

    Take care and have a great day. It must be excruciating to watch the effect of the WoF there upon so many that are already so impoverished and chasing after occultic pipe dreams. That damn devil sure is slick.

  2. Pingback: “The Language of Faith” by Son of Cary Blog | THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)

  3. abey says:

    After the first parents sinned, God said unto Adam “Earth shall no more yield unto you, & you shall work by the sweat of your brow” This is to to mean that there is no power in mans words & the power of his words is in the works. No magic’s . For them who preach the power of the word is in the tongue pretend that man is not in sin, a make belief. Thus their speaking of the word of power is but to channeling through familiar spirits which is to the Occult/Witchcraft /Sorcery. In fact the Bible does say in revelation , that the whole world will be deceived through Sorcery, one of which does indicate to the Popularity of the so called word preachers, making the prosperity Gospels.

  4. Bill says:

    Your points are excellent. Law of Attraction and Language of Faith are simply perversions of proper confession, of which you spoke. These issues, as important as they are, and as deep as some church members may go, only serve as the “vital” component. Far more reaching, and profound, is the”legal”. The roots go back to the “fall” and the “Cross”. Core issue is wrong’s teaching that Jesus died spiritually, thus “born again”. That doctrine is to WoF what Peter is to RCC.

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