What’s wrong with the Word of Faith Movement?
What in the world could be wrong with faith?
Actually, the efficacy of our faith is based on the quality of the object of our faith. For Catholics, our faith is based on nothing less than Jesus Christ, and His righteousness. Our baseline is Holy Scripture, as explained via the Historic deposit of faith. New Age Modernists utilize religiously sounding words, like PROPHECY,’ twisting the meaning and intent of God’s Holy Word for their own PROFIT and other nefarious ends. doesn’t that sound strikingly familiar to the tactics of the tempter in the Garden of Eden, and with Jesus in the Desert?
I should be clear that in speaking out against the Word of Faith Movement, we are NOT speaking against God given Spiritual Gifts, which we believe are still active and available to God’s Church — the people of God. There is a growing trend among these types of non-catholic churches for their ministers to claim grand Catholic titles and dressing up liturgical finery to bolster their authority, yet, at the same time they deny the historic deposit of faith regarding both spiritual gifts and even the very sacramental nature which we hold to be important aspects of the historic church.
Words have very specific meanings. It’s the same with the vocabulary we use within Catholicism, our lexicon is pointed and exact. We are usually very adept at being able to discern whether or not teachings are figurative, literal, prophetic or merely wishful thinking. So, that when someone in our day says something like; “I prophecy that __________ will come to pass.” It has a very specific connotation. The “prophet” is in essence saying that he/she has received a Word of Knowledge from the Lord on that subject, and is supposedly proclaiming that message faithfully and honestly.
These new age charlatans will often respond, if pressed, that they are only “Forthtelling,” relating scriptural promises. However, this response is disingenuous at best. Quite often these false prophets are generalizing vague promises of prosperity, or health and wellness, as emphatic promises from God. Test them when they promise that people WILL become prosperous or experience supernatural healing. Ask them to name names. Who is going to be healed, who will become wealthy?
In their usage of the term prophecy they abuse the use of our Lord’s name for their own monetary gain, promising “my utmost for His highest,” and that God is promising abundant blessings do ALL, but only if your faith and wallets are big enough.
These charlatan preachers rely on the emotions, gullibility, greed, and lack of spiritual formation of their audience to perpetuate a false and harmful gospel. If their promises don’t come to fruition, they blame insufficient faith.
Yes God is still in the miracle business.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are still available to the Church (people of God) today. However, they are given for His (God’s) divine purpose, to the do His will, among His people, and at His discretion. As the Apostle Paul warned, spiritual gifts must be used properly in, order to not cause confusion or lead people astray.
Below is a brief outline that I came across online and edited that briefly defines some of the spiritual gifts and their use:
1. Word of Wisdom — Verse 1 Corinthians 12:8 — In all the places used, we should consider that the proper translation of λογος as speaking regarding doctrine, as is the case in many other places of the New Testament. It is often difficult to say what is intended here by the different kinds of gifts mentioned by the apostle: they were all supernatural, and were necessary at that time for the benefit of the Church. In the 8th, 9th, and 10th verses, much may be seen in in the writings of bishop Lightfoot, Whitby, Pearce, and others. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
By doctrine of wisdom we may understand, as Bp. Pearce and Dr. Whitby observe, the mystery of our redemption, in which the wisdom of God was most eminently conspicuous: see 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:10; and which is called the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3:10. Christ, the great teacher of it, is called the wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24; and in him are said to be contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3. The apostles to whom this doctrine was committed are called σοφοι, wise men; (Matthew 23:34;) and they are said to teach this Gospel according to the wisdom given them, 2 Peter 3:15.
Are you teaching true Holy Spirit inspired wisdom or merely parroting the wisdom of this age? If What you’re teaching doesn’t align with Holy Scripture and historically accurate polemic, you’ve got a problem.
2. By the doctrine of knowledge we may understand either a knowledge of the types, presented in the Old Testament, more specifically, what are termed mysteries; such as the calling of the Gentiles, the recalling of the Jews, the mystery of iniquity, of the beast, and especially the mystical senseor meaning of the Old Testament, with all its types, rites, ceremonies. Such wisdom is what the early church relied upon in forming the great doctrines of our faith. However, such doctrines were not created from one man alone, but through prayer and a consensus of many in Council.
What special insight has God given you at the moment for a particular purpose? Does it jive with, or contradict what the Church teaches?
3. By faith, 1 Corinthians 12:9, we are to understand that miraculous faith by which they could remove mountains, 1 Corinthians 13:2 or a peculiar impulse, as Dr: Whitby calls it, that [which] came upon the apostles when any difficult matter was to be performed, which inwardly assured them that God's power would assist them in the performance of it. Others think that justifying faith, received by means of Gospel teaching, is what is intended.
4. Gifts of healing simply refers to the power which at particular times the apostles received from the Holy Spirit to cure diseases; a power which was not always resident in them; for Paul could not cure Timothy, nor remove his own thorn in the flesh; because it was given only on extraordinary occasions, though perhaps more generally than many others.
Does God still perform healing today? We believe so.
Has God given you the gift of healing others? All things must be tested..
5. The working of miracles, ενεργηματα δυναμεων, 1 Corinthians 12:10. This seems to refer to the same class as the operations, ενεργηματων, 1 Corinthians 12:6, as the words are the same; and to signify those powers by which they were enabled at particular times to work miraculously on others; ejecting demons, inflicting punishments or judgments, as in the cases mentioned under 1 Corinthians 12:6. It is a hendyadis for mighty operations. God is still in the miracle business, so-to-speak. However, He is not some sort of magical talisman that can be invoked upon command. It is always He that does the commanding and prompts our response.
6. Prophecy. This seems to imply two things: 1st, the predicting of future events, such as then particularly concerned the state of the Church and the apostles; as the dearth foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28; and the binding of St. Paul, and delivering him to the Romans, Acts 21:10, c. and St. Paul's foretelling his own shipwreck on Malta, Acts 27:25. And secondly, as implying the faculty of teaching or expounding the Scriptures, which is also a common acceptation of the word.
In any ways, the spirit of prophecy is alive and well in today’s Church. However, the most commonplace application is viewed as “Forthtelling.” That is, proclaiming the prophetic truths handed down to us by the apostles and consistently agreed upon by the Fathers of the ancient church. Our homilies should be seen as acts of prophetic nature in Forthtelling — or proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Can our Lord still use prophets as He has done in the past? Yes, but beware, the ancient injunctions against false prophets still apply. We object to the New Age Prophets of the Word of Faith movement and others because they often use the terminology of Holy prophecy, confusing their audiences with speculative promises.
7. Discerning of spirits. A gift by which the person so privileged could discern a false miracle from a true one or a pretender to inspiration from him who was made really partaker of the Holy Ghost. It probably extended also to the discernment of false professors from true ones, as appears in Peter in the case of Ananias and his wife.
It is via Holy Spirit guided discernment, that allows our hearts and minds to be opened to the TRUTH. New Age reachers often twist TRUE scripture passages with the artful skill of the serpent. If you’re not living your life guided by the Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture and Traditional exegesis you may be susceptible to falling for the lie.
8. Divers Kinds of Tongues. γενη γλωσσων, Different languages, which they had never learned, and which God gave them for the immediate instruction of people of different countries who attended their ministry. (Not the same as the commonly accepted Pentecostal usage) Care must be taken that we don’t confuse the gift of tongues with what we understand to be a private and vocal prayers language of sorts. That particular sort of prayer should be avoided in public worship, as it can be easily confused with the Spiritual Gift of “Divers Kinds of Tongues.”
9. Interpretation of tongues. It is necessary that while one is speaking the deep things of God in a company where some present did not understand, there must be a person who could immediately interpret what was said to that part of the congregation that did not understand the language. This power to interpret was also an immediate gift of God's Spirit, and is classed here among the miracles. Without Interpretation, prophecy in tongues is forbidden in Church. So, be careful. Do you know that there is an interpreter standing in the crowd?
The bottom line for the Church in our age is that we must always be discerning when it comes to folks claiming to be speaking for God. In discernment, we must always test all things. Does the prophetic message align with the messages we’ve already received in Holy Scripture and confirmed by Sacred Tradition? And finally do those prophetic proclamations come to pass?
Whether they are proclaiming words of knowledge, wisdom, or prophecy, we MUST test all things to be certain they are truly Holy Spirit inspired or venomously filled and poisonous lies. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
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