Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

     While the title of this article may cause a flashback to occasional childhood standoffs with parental authority—to which I can relate—that is not the purpose of this writing. Granted, it would be much easier and more amusing to revisit some of those parent-child confrontations than to tackle the subject at hand. Having said that, please bear with me as I take the plunge into the murky waters of doubt, debate, and disinformation concerning a hot topic among Christians; that is, the subject of health and healing.

      My first encounter with this subject came by way of an old friend of the family, Mrs. Fisher, when I was just a kid. Of course, when you are a kid, most everybody seems old. To be honest, I still believe she was old, even then. One day, out of the blue, she gave me a book, and instructed me to read it. But, instead of a good horse book, or cowboy book, or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, or some other exciting book, she handed me Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I remember thinking what an odd book that was to give a kid like me as I sat in the middle of my bed thumbing through its smooth white pages, trying to figure it out. Thank God, I already had a basic foundation of the Bible. Not an extensive foundation, of course, but enough to know that it was the true and unchanging Word of God. I knew that God had created everything, that Jesus had come to die for us, and that everyone needed to be saved. I also knew that Mrs. Fisher never talked about Jesus, or the Bible the way my Sunday school teachers did.

      On the other hand, the inexperience of youth, and an insatiable curiosity towards the spiritual realm were there as well—both areas where Satan tries to take advantage. However, the Holy Spirit is faithful, and as I struggled to grasp what was written concerning health and healing there was a growing sense of agitation in my spirit. When I read the words “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error.” (S&H 468: 10–12), and statements such as “Evil is but an illusion. It has no real basis. Evil is a false belief. God is not its author” (S & H, 480), I knew for sure that the book was dangerously full of error.

      In my teen years my dad married a woman who belonged to the Unity School of Christianity, of which I knew nothing, but thankfully, my mother flatly stated that it was “a cult.” The more my dad’s wife pressed me to read Unity material, the more agitated my spirit became. For one thing, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me read it, even if I tried. My eyes couldn’t focus on the words and my mind simply shut down. There was nothing about it that made sense to me, and again, I knew it was unscriptural, and erroneous.

      Years later I came to the conclusion that such cults as Christian Science, Religious Science, Unity, Metaphysics, New Thought, Scientology, all the Eastern Mystic Religions, the New Age Movement (with its multitude of related “spiritualistic” beliefs) as well as other “mind over matter” beliefs, ideas, and practices come under the umbrella of “mind science” religions. Rayola and I like to think of all such false beliefs, movements, and cults as merely “branches” on the same evil “tree.” In fact, when the Lord first brought Rayola and I together in ministry, we put together a short “seminar” on the dangers of the New Age Movement for different Christian groups. (Twenty-five years ago most churches, especially in rural areas, were still unaware of the dark clouds of Eastern occult mysticism blowing towards the West, cleverly disguised as “new revelations” using Christian terminology.) We needed to somehow illustrate in an understandable manner how every false belief, cult, and the occult are interrelated, and spring from a common source that reaches back to Babylon, (and even the antediluvian world). We were alarmed at how these insidious beliefs and practices were beginning to infiltrate the Christian churches. That prompted me to draw a tree labeling the error beginning at the root system, through the trunk, and into the various branches, limbs and twigs respectively. Over two decades later, Satan’s lies and deception have grown so massive, and are progressing so rapidly that drawing such a tree would be extremely daunting. Truly, broad is the way to destruction, and it appears to be growing broader by the day.

      The mind science cults generally center on the area of health and healing for mind, spirit, and body, making them attractive to people who want to control their own destiny, and who want “more” than what God has plainly revealed in His Word. After all, health and healing is something mankind has sought after ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, not to mention the lure of “godhood.” The search for the legendary “fountain of youth” inspired early explorers to travel to “parts unknown” in search of it. One can hardly blame desperate people for trying just about anything that promises relief from their sicknesses and sufferings. Many embark on difficult pilgrimages over hundreds of miles to visit shrines, so-called “sacred sights,” and “healers.” When it comes to the area of health and healing for Christians, the challenge for believers is to be able to wade through, and discern, the different approaches, beliefs, teachings, claims, techniques, and practices that have swept into the Church. No doubt one of the questions most believers long to ask God (besides why He made mosquitoes and other pests) is why so many people of great faith have not been healed of their sicknesses after much prayer.

      One of the fastest growing segments of the Protestant Christian churches over the past few decades is the “Positive Confession, Word Faith” movement. This “has involved two distinct but closely related factions: the Norman Vincent Peale/Robert Schuller Positive-Possibility thinkers/Positive Mental Attitude, with their roots in New Thought; and the Kenneth Hagin/Kenneth Copeland Positive Confession and Word-Faith groups, which have their roots in E.W. Kenyon, William Branham, and the Manifest Sons of God/Latter Rain movement. Well-known names among its leaders are E.W. Kenyon, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick K.C. Price, Robert Tilton, and David [Paul] Yonggi Cho. It does not yet constitute a new denomination, but it certainly represents innovative teachings outside of mainstream Christianity. The situation is so serious now because of the dominance over the so-called Christian media achieved by the teachers of Positive/Possibility Thinking and Positive Confession.” (Quotes from Biblical Discernment Ministries,

       According to the Apologetics Index, Joyce Meyer is another big proponent of this mind science, New Age practice. “Words are containers for power,” she writes in The Name, The Word, The Blood. The basic premise of ‘positive confession’ as taught in the Word-Faith movement is: God created things by speaking them into existence. We are created in God’s image. Therefore we, too, can create things (or situations) by speaking them into existence. Those who teach this doctrine claim that words are a creative force, with the power of influencing both the physical and the spiritual world. Hence believers spend much time binding Satan, demons and other spiritual entities, claiming health, claiming wealth.”

      I remember back in the early 80’s getting caught up with the “positive confession” teachings of Kenneth Copeland on TV, until I finally woke up to the fact that his teachings were identical to what Unity teaches. Years later when Rayola and I were invited to a certain church to hear a so-called “wonderful” speaker, we both recognized the heresy he was spouting, but, interestingly, from two different perspectives. I identified it as the Manifest Sons of God belief, and she recognized it as pure Mormon doctrine! Satan is forever repackaging the old lie (“Ye shall be as gods”) and presenting it to mankind as something “ultra spiritual,” or “scientific,” or “advanced,” or as “hidden wisdom of the ancients.” Such is the mind science Positive Confession/Word Faith movement. Naturally, if we are “little gods,” then we can create, and control, our own reality, and even others, through the power of our words which is the essence of witchcraft. (That is why you will hear me call communism “Satan’s religion” because it is all about control.)

      Control and power is the irresistible, beguiling, shiny bait on Satan’s hook. The desire for control and power begins at birth and ends at death, unless a person relinquishes to God every desire for independence and the self-glorification that control and power promises. Only the godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is the ultimate power and glory, which brings me to idolatry. This is the most insidious of sins in the eyes of God. Idolatry dares to exalt mind or matter, the unseen or the seen, above the triune God. Therefore, those who worship their worship, or who have faith in their faith are committing idolatry. The same is true of those who place their faith in the words that they speak, the “positive confessions” they cling to regardless of the circumstances or situations at hand. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” Isaiah 46:9, 10.

      Christians who have come under the sway of mind science promoters are generally well-meaning people who desperately long to operate in the “gift of healing,” even if it means going outside of the acceptable perimeters of biblical orthodoxy to develop a formula that promises results. Sadly, they often find themselves at odds with Christians who maintain a solid biblical stand, and mainstream, historical Christianity—that “old time religion,” which has stood the test of time, and has remained unchanged for two-thousand years. As D. R. McConnell pointed out, “any new religious movement [within Protestantism] must bear the scrutiny of two criteria: biblical fidelity and historical orthodoxy.” He adds, “Regrettably, the Positive Confession movement fails on both counts. The historical roots of this movement (which Charles Farah has called ‘Faith Formula Theology’) lie in the occult, and most recently, in New Thought and its off-shoot, the Mind Science cults. Its Biblical basis is found only in the peculiar interpretations of its own leaders, not in generally accepted Christian theology.” (Quotes from Biblical Discernment Ministries)

      A good summation of this error states,As the name “Positive Confession”/”Word-Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts. The term “positive confession” refers to the teaching that words have creative power. What you say, Word-Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your ‘confessions,’ that is, the things you say — especially the favors you demand of God — must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer. Word-Faith believers view their positive confessions as an incantation by which they can conjure up anything they desire: ‘Believe it in your heart; say it with your mouth. That is the principle of faith. You can have what you say’” (Charismatic Chaos, pp. 281, 285).

       Christians who are in a battle for their lives with terrible diseases are often deeply wounded by the cruel and heartless words of the “positive confessors.” Nowhere in the Word of God, either in the Old or the New Testaments will you find this insidious, occult belief and practice. What you will find is the fact that sickness and death is a reality which began its work the moment Adam partook of the forbidden fruit. Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Sickness and suffering are part of the experience of our brief existence in these physical bodies.

      Those who slap an unbiblical platitude on a suffering child of God by telling him or her that sickness, disease, or a hard-to-heal injury is because he or she has sin in his or her life, or a demon, or lack of faith are of the wrong spirit, and have no business in any type of Christian ministry whatsoever, period! They lack the fruit of the Spirit, and walk in disobedience to the Word of God which tells us to “weep with them that weep” Romans 12:15b. God will surely judge those who have wounded His sheep, scattered His flock, weakened their faith in Jesus, or turned them away from the Lord altogether. To such false workers the Lord declares, “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place. All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers” Jeremiah 50: 6, 7. While this passage of Scripture pertains to the people of Israel, it also applies to the Church today. God has not changed, his righteous judgments, and Word, have not changed, nor have His truth and principles changed. The Apostle Paul warned, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” Acts 20:29-31. (Underscore added.)

      The Positive Confession/Word Faith/Positive Mental Attitude mind science religions originate, as stated, from the occult, and mystical Eastern religions such as Hinduism. (Unity is a New Age combination of Hinduism, Christian Science, New Thought, and metaphysics.) The spirit behind these, and other unbiblical teachings, religions, and movements is an antichrist spirit. Furthermore, the bottom line of cults, and the occult is the denial that the Lord Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. It all goes back to the serpent’s lie in the Garden of Eden that we can become “gods.” When a person takes a “bite” out of this poisonous fruit of unbelief, he or she opens the door for demonic influences such as oppression, or even possession.

      Christians who allow themselves to get caught up in the hype of “positive confession” take certain key Scriptures out of context, and proceed to quote them to others who are in need of physical healing with no genuine concern or consideration for where such hurting, and often devastated, people really are. Not every situation is the same, not every sickness or disease has the same cause, and there is no such thing as a “one size fits all—just believe it because I say so” solution. The question is, what happens when isolated Scriptures relating to healing are taken out of context, and used as a mantra, or a formula, or a “magic wand” to “cure” people, and the person remains sick, or his or her condition worsens, or they even die? According to the Word-of-Faith people, the pat answer to that goes like this: “You (or he or she) just don’t have enough faith.” What destruction this sinister belief has wrought among God’s sheep! The damage to precious souls is incalculable.

      The Word of God itself holds the key as to why not everyone is healed. While it is true that there have been people miraculously healed down through the ages (some instantly, others over periods of time), and even some raised from the dead, and while it is true that God is still healing people around the world, it is also true that not every Christian who loves the Lord is physically healed in this life. To begin to gain a glimpse of the bigger picture, we must first shift our focus from humanity’s ills, and our pet theories, traditions, and doctrines, and lift our spiritual eyes up to God until our perception is enlarged to embrace the full realization that GOD IS SOVEREIGN. This means that God is in control of everything. He has His reasons why He heals some, and doesn’t heal others. Even Jesus did not heal everyone who gathered at the Pool of Bethesda. (See John 5:1-16.)

      Secondly, many of the Scriptures the positive confessors quote concerning physical healing are about spiritual healing, first and foremost. Sin is what keeps people out of heaven, not sickness. Our preoccupation with our temporary, earthly existence can easily take precedence over what is the primary importance to God, and that is salvation. It is also important to consider that every promise of God concerning both spiritual healing, and physical healing, will be fulfilled when Jesus comes to set up His kingdom on earth.

      Salvation is a three-stage process: the first being spiritual healing when we receive Christ, and become born again; secondly, the healing process of regeneration and sanctification as we walk out the life the Holy Spirit works in us; and, thirdly total physical healing when our redemption is complete. In the words of Pastor Art Sather, “My spirit is saved, my soul is being saved, and my body will be saved.” “And not only they, [creation] but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” Romans 8:23 (Emphasis mine). Therefore, healing is in the atonement for all, but not all will receive physical healing in this life, and even if they do, they will still die for we are living in a corruptible body. Here is God’s promise: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54?

      Romans 8:18 records the Apostle Paul’s attitude concerning suffering, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18. Sometimes God allows His saints to suffer for His glory. Romans 8:17 says, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” If it is not God’s will that any believer should ever suffer physically in this world, then how can we explain away great portions of Scripture such as Hebrews 11, or the entire book of Job (which gives us a behind the scenes explanation as to why God’s righteous servant Job was allowed to suffer at the hand of Satan)? Peter wrote, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” 1 Peter 5:10. If God is sovereign, and if it is not His will that His people suffer through sickness, persecution, and death, then how would you explain that to the millions of martyrs who have suffered and died for their faith for the past two thousand years, and who are still suffering and dying for their faith every day? Is God bound to do our will because we quote His Word to Him with a “because I say so” attitude? Heaven forbid!

      Do we believe in healing? Of course we do! We have prayed for people through the years that were healed. We have seen the Lord heal many people, but not all of the people. But, that doesn’t discourage us from continuing to seek the Lord for physical healing for others, and ourselves as well. What is of utmost importance is for all of us as God’s people to be able to declare with the Apostle Paul, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” Philippians 3:8-11.

      Seek Jesus first, then be encouraged with these words, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come and will not tarry” Hebrews 10:37.