Word Faith Theology and Mormonism
Teaching that God, who is pure spirit (John 4:24), has His own spirit body is to teach something definitely not found in Scripture. There is no biblical basis for such a teaching. This teaching would be more in line with Mormonism than orthodox Christianity.
Kenneth Copeland teaches that God created the Universe, and everything therein, out of a spiritual substance known as faith, by forming a mental picture of the creation in "the insides of Him," then by using words as containers for His "faith," projected the image outwardly into the reality of creation.
For example, in his tape, Spirit, Soul, and Body, Copeland says, "Faith is real, is a power, is a force. It's used by God at His will. This world and everything in it was created by Him and He used His faith to do it. Now you couldn't really and truly say that He created it out of nothing because faith is something, the whole thing was born out of the force of faith that was resident inside the being of God."
Copeland's misunderstanding of faith and creation has a New Age ring to it. If the universe was created out of God's faith, and if this faith is the actual life and personality of God, then the creation is merely an extension of God (pantheism or panentheism), thus making all things divine.
In his tape, Following the Faith of Abraham, Copeland asserts, "You don't think God created man in His image and created the earth in some other image, huh? There's nothing under the whole sun that's new-This is a copy of home-a copy of the mother planet. Where God lives, He made a little one just like it and put us on it."
Evidently to Copeland, God lives on a big earth just like the smaller one humans live on, since everything images the things of God.
There is a striking similarity here to Mormonism which teaches that "God is supposed to have lived on a planet near a mysterious star called Kolob" (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 428).
Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Copeland's wife, stated in The Believer's Voice of Victory that, "when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He transmitted His very self into him. God imparted the same spiritual substance of which He is made into Adam's being" (Believer's Voice of Victory, June, 1986, p. 10).
In his sermon tape, Following the Faith of Abraham, Kenneth Copeland teaches that God created Adam a god (having the same attributes as God Himself): "And Adam is as much like God as you can get, just the same as Jesus when He came into the earth. And I want you to know something ¾ Adam in the garden of Eden was God manifested in the flesh." We now see that Brigham Young of Mormonism isn't the only one who has taught the Adam-God theory (Deseret News, 16 June 1973), but also Kenneth Copeland. (parenthesis mine).
In The Force of Love, another sermon tape, Kenneth Copeland states, "You don't have a god in you, you are one."
Kenneth Hagin in Word of Faith says, "You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth" (December 1980, p. 14).
Earl Paulk of the Harvester Church in Atlanta, Georgia, in his work, Satan Unmasked, explains it like this: "Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods; we have trouble comprehending this truth. Until we comprehend that we are little gods, we cannot manifest the kingdom of God" (p. 97).
In his book Agony of Deceit, Michael Horton has documented Kenneth Copeland in a 19 July 1987 crusade as saying, "I say this and repeat it so it don't upset you too bad. When I read in the Bible where He (Jesus) says, I AM, I say, Yes, I am too!" (p. 268). In John 8:58, I AM is a self proclamation of Jesus' own unique Deity from Exodus 3:14, 15.
Dave Hunt, in his book Seduction of Christianityity, documents Casey Treat, pastor of Seattle's Christian Faith Center, as saying in his tape series Believing in Yourself that we're exact duplicates of God. "I'm an exact duplicate of God! When God looks in the mirror He sees me! When I look in the mirror, I see God! Oh, hallelujah! You know, sometimes people say to me, when they're mad and want to put me down. You just think you're a little god. Thank you! Hallelujah! You got that right! Who'd you think you are, Jesus? Yep!...Are you listening to me? Are you kids running around here acting like gods? Why not? God told me to! Since I'm an exact duplicate of God, I'm going to act like God!"
One of WOF's proof texts for them being little gods is Psalms 82:6. If one looks carefully, it is apparent that God is mocking the judges (gods) who had perverted justice. He (God) says, "I say ye are gods, nevertheless, you will die as mere men" (vss. 6 & 7). This is the same proof text the Mormons use to say one can become a god.
It is also a contradiction that if one is a god that one should die as a man. God is mocking and in a real sense condemning those that would arrogantly try to lift themselves to such status.
As is seen with Casey Treat, another problem with WOF teachers is their misunderstanding of the meaning of man being made in the image of God. To use Treat's own illustration of looking in the mirror, when one does look, what one sees is one's own reflection. The image is not reality. The image is only a reflection of one's reality. One reflects God's image (some of His qualities) but one is not God.
Granted that man is the apex of God's creation and as such is completely different from the rest of creation, but being God's image does not mean that one is a little god. Humans are not divine by nature. God is divine. "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods." (Galatians 4:8, also see Isaiah 1:6-11, 43:10, 44:6; Gen. 1:26, 28, 3:4-5; Ezekiel 28:2; Psalm 8:6-8).
THE BORN AGAIN JESUS
Michael Horton points out in Agony of Deceit, that "any teaching that denies that Christ as `the only begotten Son, the One and Only incarnation of God' is heresy" (p. 269; John 3:16, 1:14,18; I John 4:1). It is important to point this out.
Kenneth Copeland, in Believer's Voice of Victory, in relating to what Christ told him says, "Don't be disturbed when people accuse you of thinking you're God -the more you get to be like me, the more they're going to think that way of you. They crucified me for claiming that I was God. But I didn't claim I was God, I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in me" (August 1988, p. 8).
The early Gnostic heretic, Cerinthus, taught that Jesus was just a man, becoming divine only at Baptism. At the cross, the Holy Spirit left Him, leaving Jesus devoid of His divine nature - once again He was just a man (Baker's Dictionary of Theology, Corinthians, p. 113).
Copeland seems to advocate the same thing in the same Believer's Voice of Victory, Aug. 1988 issue when he says, "He voluntarily gave up that advantage, living His life here not as God but as a man. He had no innate supernatural powers. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as recorded in Luke 3:22." This is needed to understand the WOF's teaching on Jesus' spiritual death.
In God's Will for You, Gloria Copeland states, "Jesus experienced the same spiritual death that entered man in the garden of Eden" (p. 3). This can not be so because Adam's death in the garden was due to disobedience where Jesus' death on the cross was due to obedience. (Phil. 2: 8b).
In The Name of Jesus, Kenneth Hagin defines spiritual death as "something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan's nature¼Jesus tasted death - spiritual death - for every man" (p. 31).
To many in the WOF movement, the emphasis is not on the physical death of Jesus (which is what the Bible emphasizes, i.e., "without shedding of blood is no remission," see Hebrews 9:12, 14, 15, 22) but on the spiritual death of Christ.
On his tape, What Happened From the Cross to the Throne, Copeland says, "When (Jesus) said, `It is finished' He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. The plan of redemption had just begun. There was still three days and three nights to be gone through before He went to the throne" (parenthesis mine).
This is in direct opposition to what Christ said on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). The word is tetelistai meaning "paid for in full." There was nothing more to pay for beyond the cross. If there was, Jesus would not have said to the thief on the cross, "To day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43), but instead would have said, "Today you will be with Me in hell."