How should I respond to friends who send me email articles, which are written by preachers such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin and Benny Hinn? Some of these articles are so ridiculous or heretical that I feel it is wrong for me to simply ignore them.
These three men are among a host of other modern heretics, who have been and are spewing out false doctrines and blasphemies faster than they can be mopped up by orthodox and conservative ministers of the Gospel.
I believe the best way to deal with the spread of their poison is to identify them and warn those we know against them; and have nothing to do with them. This is a biblical injunction, for the Apostle Paul instructs us: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom 16:17). Whenever we receive articles or tapes by these men, I do not think it would be useful at all to try to refute them point by point, for there will be no end to their heresies. A better approach would be to expose them for their heresies and excesses; and pray that if the person who sent you the article or tape be a true sheep of Christ, that he will hear the warning and flee from the thief and hireling, or wolf in sheepskin (cf. Jn 10:4–11; Acts 20:29–30; Jude 22–23).
For this purpose, I would recommend a short exposé of the false teachings of these persons, as, in my experience, most persons who are inclined to take heed to extreme Charismatic teachers are unlikely to pick up books critiquing them. Our information can be gleaned from well-researched books, such as The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements edited by Stanley Burgess and Gary McGee, Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur, or Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff. I append below a synopsis of each of the three men, which I had written about four to five years ago. My information came mainly from the three books mentioned above, but today many other books and pamphlets have been written about these false teachers and others. One useful website where you would be able to find bibliography to books and articles written about modern heretics is www.deceptioninthechurch.com. I cannot agree with some of the theology of the webmaster, Sandy Simpson, and some of his contributors, such as Jacob Prasch; but they have done the Church a good service by putting together useful resources, which Christians may use to warn others concerning the gross deception that is sweeping across Christendom.>
In any case, the three synopses mentioned, which may be useful for some of us, are as follows:
Kenneth E. Hagin
The founder of the Rhema Bible Training Centre and a TV evangelist, Hagin not only boasts of alleged visits to heaven and hell, but recounts numerous out-of-body experiences as well. One of Hagin’s more notorious “visionary” tales involves a “demon monkey.” The story opens with ‘Jesus’ and Hagin having a conversation on casting out demons, when suddenly a “demon monkey” jumps between them and begins to drown out the words of ‘Jesus’ by yelling, “Yackety, yack, yack, yack, yack,” in a shrill voice. Finally, after some time had passed, Hagin takes control of the situation by telling the demon to “shut up in the name of Jesus.” ‘Jesus,’ no doubt relieved, tells Hagin: “if you hadn’t done something about that, I couldn’t have.” Shocked by the statement of ‘Jesus,’ Hagin immediately suggests to ‘Jesus’ that perhaps he stumbled over his own words and that, rather than saying he “couldn’t have,” he meant to say he “wouldn’t have.” ‘Jesus’ calmly assures Hagin that he had not misspoken. Hagin, however, was not convinced. He tells the ‘Lord’ he cannot accept that and presses ‘Christ’ to prove his claim with two or three proof texts. After telling Hagin that “sometimes your theology needs upending,” “Jesus” smiles sweetly and proceeds to accommodate him with four proof-text tests instead of three (Crisis, 333). Among his numerous other heretical teachings, Hagin taught that the Lord Jesus Christ took on the nature of Satan and tasted spiritual death (Crisis, 156). He also taught that God made believers “the same class of being that He is Himself… Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God…” (Crisis, 108).
A televangelist, author and leading proponent of the “Word of Faith” message (Dictionary, s.v. “Copeland, Kenneth”), Copeland got his start in the ministry as a direct result of memorising his mentor, Kenneth Hagin’s messages. Not only does Copeland espouse concepts common to cultists, he often throws reckless remarks that make even the deviant doctrine of the cults seem tame. Copeland teaches that God is 6’ 2” to 6’ 3”, weighs around 200 pounds, and has a handspan of about 9 inches. He claims that Adam was “God manifested in the flesh” and that he was “an exact duplicate of God, and not even subordinate to Him.” Once he said: “When I read in the Bible where He says, ‘I Am,’ I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I Am, too.’” (Chaos, 272). This sounds strangely similar to the teachings of Mormonism, except that it is more extravagant. And not only does he teach that Adam and God are exact duplicates, he also perpetuates the myth that earth is an exact replica of the Mother Planet on which God lives. All these, however, are but the tip of the iceberg of heresy, for Copeland brashly pronounces God to be the greatest failure of all time, boldly proclaims that “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross,” and that Jesus made Himself “obedient to Satan… [and took] on his nature…. He allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell…” (Chaos, 279). He also describes Christ in hell as an “emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit.” Copeland also teaches his converts the possibility of creating health and wealth through visualisation and occultism (Crisis, 338–339).
A pastor of Orlando Christian Centre, which sits more than 7,000, and a well-known TV evangelist, he was one of the fastest rising stars in the Charismatic arena; and a few of his books which were full of heresies are best sellers. He is so greatly influenced by faith healers, such as Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman, that he admits frequenting their gravesites in order to experience “the anointing” which he claims emanates from their bones (Crisis, 30, 341). While claiming to be “under the anointing,” Hinn has uttered some of the most unbelievable statements imaginable, including the claim that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that women were originally designed to give birth out of their sides (Crisis, 34). Not only does Hinn make such ludicrous statements, he once claimed that the Holy Spirit revealed to him directly, that each person in the Godhead is a triune being, so that there are nine persons in the Godhead. When confronted by Christianity Today, he retracted the statement, but makes no explanation as to how the Holy Spirit could have taught him wrongly. Two years later, he taught that each person of the Godhead possesses a spirit-body. That is tritheism (see Crisis, 123–123). In fact, he is not only a tritheist, but a polytheist. Like Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, he teaches that Christians are little gods (Chaos, 274). Hinn is also known for his ominous threats against those who oppose his doctrine (Crisis, 344).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). I seriously doubt that any true Christian, reading these facts and believing them, would continue to take Hagin, Copeland or Hinn as true servants of the Lord. A sheep will as well mistake the howl of wolf for the call of its shepherd as a believer mistakes their heresies as being biblical. Many who remain in the bonds of iniquity would no doubt have been sold to their charisma and have shut their ears (2 Tim 4:3–4), and would not take heed. But regardless of whether the Lord will grant them repentance, it is our moral duty to warn those we know and hope that they will return to the old paths (cf. Ezk 3:18–19).