The Word of Faith movement owes much of its heritage to evangelist E.W. Kenyon. Kenyon, formerly a Methodist minister, moved into Pentecostalism later in his life; an excellent, and I would say, supplemental article to the current one, would be on the roots of Pentecostalism here. Though many argue whether or not the New Thought Movement and Gnosticism influenced Kenyon, most scholars find agreement on his influence upon Kenneth Hagin.
If Kenyon was the “founder” of the WOF movement, Hagin is said to be the “granddaddy” of it. In his early childhood, Hagin attested to having an incurable blood disease. At age 15, he claims to have been bed-ridden, and being on the verge of death. In April of 1933, Hagin claims that during a conversion experience, he died three separate times in 10 minutes. In the moments of his multiple death experiences, Hagin claims to have seen the horrors of hell and come back to life. After this experience, Hagin claims conversion, and about two years later began a ministry as an evangelist. The rest, as they say, is history.
Some of Hagin’s contributions that continue to this day would be:
- Faith Library Publications
- RHEMA praise on the Trinity Broadcasting Network
- Faith Seminar of the Air radio program
- The Word of Faith magazine
- RHEMA Correspondence Bible School (established in US, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Peru,Romania, Singapore, South Africa, the South Pacific, Thailand, Nigeria, Zambia, and Egypt
- RHEMA Prayer and Healing Center
So, Kenyon influenced Hagin, who in turn influenced Kenneth Copeland (who also worked briefly with Oral Roberts). In 1967, Kenneth Copeland and his wife founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries. While Copeland is likely the most influential figure in the Word of Faith movement, one must also acknowledge that Benny Hinn, Hagin, and the Trinity Broadcasting Network played vital roles in advancing this movement as well.
Hagin’s RHEMA Correspondence Bible School has trained over 10,000 students in his theology; Benny Hinn began preaching in Canada, yet now (per the information on his own website) reaches over 200 countries with a daily telecast, has his own school of ministry, and a program that has reached over 46,000 children globally in the last year alone with holistic outreach and religious training; the Trinity Broadcasting Network is carried on over 5,000 TV stations, 33 international satellites, the internet, and cable systems all over the world, including the US, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and South America.
Regularly, each of these ministries either takes part in, or airs on television, crusade events where they demonstrate mass healing, prophecies, and exhibit the gifts of the Spirit. We will not get into the discussion on the validity of any of the like just yet – that will come in further posts. Add to this the continual advancement in technology, new ministers in this movement, and new ministries, the Word of Faith Movement continues to grow and stretch across the globe at a rapid rate. It is estimated that more than 6% of Africa’s entire population believe the health and wealth gospel. Considering the amount of easy publicity these ministries have, it is no easy task to speculate just how much of an affect they have. Single crusade events in other countries have boasted of several million participants.
From this movement, we have seen several faces embrace parts (or the whole) of teaching in their own ministries, furthering the cause for the WOF movement. Whether or not one would agree that a person only adhering to certain tenants of these teachings brings them into proponents of the WOF movement, I would. That being said, the next blog post will be on these popular teachers and exhibiting some of the quotes they have been recorded saying.
Those included will be:
- Kenneth Copeland
- Benny Hinn
- T.D. Jakes
- Creflo Dollar
- Joyce Meyer
- Bishop Eddie Long
- Joel Osteen
- Paula White
- Fred Price
- Paul Crouch