Roots of the Word of Faith/Positive Confession Movement
But there were false prophets also
among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among
you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying
the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift
destruction (2 Peter 2:1).
Much of Kenyon's theories are practiced, and his writings plagiarized by the word of faith/positive confession promulgators. The positive confession movement, also known as the "faith movement," profess characteristics in their teachings that resemble either identical, or modifications of the foundational doctrines of E.W. Kenyon. The five major doctrines prominent are:
faith in faith;
spiritual death of Christ; and
the view that Christians are little gods.
These doctrines all originated with Kenyon. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 80.]. As any one of these doctrines can be analyzed at length, the "spiritual death" of Jesus is the one I will deal with - the most erroneous doctrine of them all.
The origin of the positive confession teaching can be traced back to the life and teachings of E.W. Kenyon who was introduced to the philosophical ideas of positive confession at Emerson College of Oratory in Boston in 1880. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), p. 35-36]
The religious system promoted at Emerson College was New Thought metaphysics,* which is a system of cultic belief that taught that true reality is spiritual, that the spiritual is the cause of all physical effects, and that the human mind through positive mental attitude and positive confession has the power to create its own reality: either health and wealth, or sickness and poverty. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 35-36].To believe that true reality is spiritual, and that the human mind has the potential to create its own reality is sorcery. In Hinduism this is called maya, and is based upon the ancient sorcerer's belief that the entire universe is an illusion created by the mind. [Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402), p. 138.]. Incidently, there used to be a children's TV animated program called "Maya the Bee" many years ago. Then it was not as obvious, but today the New Age Movement (based on Hinduism) have infiltrated every sector of society, indoctrinating our youth with sorceress practices. Not only is the world being influenced by New Age principals, but, also the church, who are adopting these identical principles and techniques masked or disguised under new titles and names. New Thought is the old technique called Transcedentalism, which emphasized that thought controls everything. Out of his book The Seduction of Christianity Dave Hunt wrote,
The power of thinking, whether negative or positive, was believed to be sufficient to even create physical reality or destroy it. God was not personal, but a great Mind which was activated by our thoughts and would actualize them into our concrete form. The corollary to this axiom is obvious: Man is divine. Forced out of the church at that time as heresy, New Thought became the basis for such mind-science cults as Christian Science, Religious Science, and Unity. Today's church is being swept by a revival of New Thought, now called Positive Thinking, Possibility Thinking, Positive Confession, Positive Mental Attitude, and Inner Healing. We are very concerned that this time New Thought, which represents inside the church what New Age is in the secular world, will not be forced out, but will remain within the evangelical church to contribute to the growing confusion and seduction. One of the most basic New Thought techniques is visualization, which is now firmly entrenched within the church. [Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402), p. 150.]
Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, where E.W. Kenyon received his instruction, was "a hotbed of the emerging New Thought philosophy." [John Coffee and Richard L. Wentworth, A Century of Eloquence: The History of Emerson College, 1880 - 1980 (Alternative Publications, 1982).] Kenyon's teaching about "the power of words" and his warnings never to make a "negative confession" [Kenyon and Gosset, Confession, pp. 129-36, 152-55, 182-85, etc.] deeply influenced Hagin and many others who are recognized today as leaders of the word of faith/positive confession movement. Kenyon also taught that man is a little god "in God's class" and therefore can use the same faith-force that God does. [E.W. Kenyon, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne? (Kenyon, 1945, 5th ed.) pp. 62, 173-76.] We allegedly create our own reality with the words of our mouth: "What I confess, I possess." [E.W. Kenyon, The Hidden Man: An Unveiling of the Subconscious Mind (Kenyon, 1970), p. 98.]
The theological deviations of E.W. Kenyon from orthodox Christianity were initially minor when compared to those later on in his ministry. With each of Kenyon's disciples who succeeded him, the errors became more and more pronounced.
Kenyon taught that Jesus was imputed with Satan's nature on the cross, died spiritually, and went to hell to suffer in our place. [E.W. Kenyon, Identification: A Romance in Redemption (Seattle: Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1968), p. 15.]
In a thesis submitted by D.R. McConnell to theological faculty, Oral Roberts University, McConnell summarizes Kenyon's reasoning to the physical death of Jesus insufficient to atone, citing:
For Christ to defeat his enemies, He had to: (1) die spiritually and become one with Satan in order to provide salvation from sin and healing for sickness, (2) die physically and fulfill the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenant, (3) be dragged to Hell by Satan where He suffered the torments for the damned for three days and nights, (4) be recreated in Hell and , thus, become the first born again man, (5) defeat Satan and the Demonic host in open combat, (6) rise from the dead as vindication of His victory in Hell, and (7) ascend to the Father where He was enthroned and now serves as the priestly mediator of the new covenant. [D.R. McConnell, The Kenyon Connection: A Theological and Historical Analysis of the Cultic Origins of the Faith Movement (Thesis submitted to the theological faculty, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 1982), 32-33. Also see Kenyon, Identification, 8, 15, 18.]
Kenyon had also this to quote. "Since sin and sickness are purely spiritual, mere physical death could never atone, nor could it deal with the source of sin and sickness: Satan." [E.W. Kenyon, Jesus the Healer, p. 17.]
The popular advocates of the positive confession movement teaching this doctrine are Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Fred Price, Robert Tilton, and Jerry Savelle. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 80.]
Kenyon's attendance at Emerson College gave him broad exposure to various transcendental and metaphysical ideas. Although Kenyon probably did not consciously appropriate the teachings of the metaphysical cults to dignify his doctrine, he was unquestionably influenced by various strands of metaphysical teaching. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 79.]
The mission of the college was to produce graduates who would believe, practice, and preach the New Thought Gospel of Charles Wesley Emerson, founder of the college.