My title may be true of Alice’s Restaurant, but God isn’t waiting counter there, or anywhere. You guessed it, this is another blast at the Word of Faith movement, otherwise known as “name it and claim it,” or, “blab it and grab it.” Of course, those aliases aren’t popular among that profitable movement’s purveyors.
No doubt most Word of Faith preachers are well-intended local pastors of the Pentecostal stripe. The rest are televangelists, using The Bible Network or other evangelical media outlets as their well-paid pulpits. Miraculous hankies, indeed!
Check out the little fella in the picture above. He obviously isn’t a true preacher, not having lived long enough to know what he’s preaching. Yet, his words and style ring true to the stereotypical Pentecostal preacher.
I have nothing against charismatic preachers or their congregations. Most charismatic preachers rightly divide the Word of truth, but arrive at different conclusions than I do. Those men of God are well-educated (indoctrinated), but in a different Christian tradition from which I’ve been indoctrinated. Please note, touchy charismatic brethren, that I include myself among the millions of Christ-followers who adhere to the theology in which we were discipled. And know that I’m not saying we’re doctrinal puppets who can’t think for ourselves, but as the sapling is bent, so grows the tree (apologies to Alexander Pope).
Playing Fast and Loose With God’s Word
Many Bible verses seem to say God will give us what we want, if only our faith is strong enough. Three factors lead to that conclusion: First, the Authorized Version’s Victorian language often doesn’t mean what we contemporary readers think. Second, Word of Faith preachers never delve into the original languages, or even refer to a variety of Bible commentaries for background information. And third, many Pentecostal preachers believe the gift of prophecy gives them license to declare their — uh, creative — ideas as holy writ.
Off hand, I can think of three New Testament passages that should give such “Apostolic” preachers second thoughts:
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. All three of these warnings apply to Pentecostal misinterpretations. “Another Jesus” is a Jesus who must give us what we want if we follow a certain formula or believe strongly enough. “A different spirit” is a spirit of disorder or deception. And, “a different gospel” requires anything in addition to faith for our salvation.
Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Here again, we see a warning against a different gospel. Paul’s warning applied directly to the heresies of the day, but passing time seems to invent new heresies, and this is indeed a strong warning. The word translated “accursed” comes from anathema, meaning condemned, excommunicated, or set off. Nuff said?
Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. This passage applies directly to modifying Christ’s revelation to Apostle John, but most scholars say applying it to the canon of Scripture is also valid.
I think I’m safe in saying God doesn’t cotton to being treated as a short-order cook. He will never give us what we want if it is outside of his loving will for us. And his name certainly isn’t Alice.