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Jon Ruthven: What’s Right About the Faith Movement

 

Jon Ruthven, “What’s Right About the Faith Movement,” Ministries Today Volume 17, Number 1 (January-February 1999), pages 56-60.

One of the most respected scholars among charismatic circles has recently written briefly about what is perhaps the most controversial segment of the independent charismatic movement, the Word of Faith movement. His article appears in what is likely the most popular charismatic minister’s magazine, Ministries Today.

Professor Ruthven gives a short background of what the Faith movement teaches and then challenges those outside this movement to hold their own traditional views in check before examining what the Faith movement does teach. He says that 1) Faith teaching has a better grasp of what the Bible says about the radical position the believer has in Christ than most of us do. The faith movement has a profound understanding of the majestic position of the believer before God. 2) The challenge to believe God to meet all our needs is heard clearly in Faith teaching. Aggressive, joyous faith is central to the Christian walk. 3) Faith teaching does much to establish or build faith. They accurately communicate that faith doesn’t just happen, it must be encouraged and built up. Ruthven says, “Faith teaching is right in that it has discerned what is perhaps the most important emphasis in the Bible: Faith is absolutely central to our relationship with God. Beyond that, faith teaching’s emphasis of developing and having faith is commendable” (p. 58, emphasis his).

Then, in a succinct way, Ruthven brings a greater Biblical balance to faith teaching by showing how easy it is to abuse the intent of Scripture by misapplying promises or statements not intended for our present circumstances. Latching on and holding God to do something He has not said He will do will only undermine true trust. Ruthven says, “This is the bottom line: If you want to build your faith, seek God in prayer to find out what God wants in that situation. When you receive the assurance of faith, and you have received it accurately, God will fulfill His Word” (p. 60).

Faith is absolutely central to our relationship with God.

This Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA) professor has done an excellent job of building a bridge to a movement often blacklisted for their poor handling of theology. This combined with his subtle corrective about how to Biblically build faith make this article a timely and powerful statement.

Although in my opinion this article by Dr. Ruthven is especially gracious to the Faith movement, the response has not all been positive. One prominent leader (who is only mentioned favorably in the article) told Ruthven that he “obviously know[s] so little about” the Faith movement that he should not have written anything about it.1 While Professor Ruthven does not claim to be an expert on the movement, what he says in this albeit brief article needs to be heeded. I pray that many will read his challenge and find a greater Biblical balance to their understanding of faith and learning to pursue and pray for God’s will.

Reviewed by Raul L. Mock

 

Endnotes

1 Taken from an E-mail to the reviewer from Jon Ruthven, dated January 6, 1999.

 

This article has been republished online at numerous sites, including: http://hopefaithprayer.com/word-of-faith/whats-right-about-the-faith-movement (available as of August 12, 2014).

 

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 1999

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996 and their Information Technology team since 1998. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Google+ LinkedIn

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