A Historical and Theological Framework for Understanding Word of Faith Theology -- By: Russell A. Morris

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 13:1 (Mar 2012)
Article: A Historical and Theological Framework for Understanding Word of Faith Theology
Author: Russell A. Morris


A Historical and Theological Framework for Understanding Word of Faith Theology

Russell A. Morris

and

Daniel T. Lioy1

Abstract

This journal article offers a historical background and contemporary framework in order to facilitate a better understanding of word of faith theology. The essay first considers the historical origins of the word of faith movement. In this section, three principal sources are noted. Second, the essay offers several contextual influences which have affected the word of faith movement. Here, five influences are briefly assessed. Third, an assessment of four key persons in the development of the movement is presented. Fourth, key components in the development of the word of faith message are appraised. Finally, four primary tenets of word of faith theology are assessed per their continuity with orthodox evangelical theology.

Introduction

The modern faith movement is referred to by many names. Those most frequently cited are the Prosperity Gospel, the Word of Faith Movement, the Faith-Formula Movement, the Health and Wealth

Gospel, and the Positive Confession Movement. Word of faith theology is not confined to a particular faith tradition, but has been assimilated into many evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal mainline denominations (Van Biema & Chu 2006). According to Farah (1982:15), the word of faith message is perhaps the most attractive message preached in the contemporary church. In the main, word of faith theology posits an anthropocentric worldview, in which Christians are entitled to health, wealth, and prosperity, all of which is obtainable by utilising one’s faith. Because of its popularity, word of faith theology is often modified to suit the particular context of its adherents, producing various hybrid strands of the movement (Anderson 2004:158). While some assume that the word of faith movement finds its origins in the Pentecostal and Charismatic faith traditions, McConnell (1995:xx) argues that this assumption is not historically accurate; rather, that specific tenets of the movement can be traced historically to extra-biblical, non-biblical, even cultic sources. The following assessment of various aspects of the word of faith movement will hopefully facilitate a better understanding of its theology.

1. Historical Origins of the Word of Faith Movement

Indeed, numerous sources have informed and influenced the word of faith movement. Consequently, identifying the origins of the movement is no minimal task. Although the influences often intersect in terms of specifics, research sug...

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