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Paul L. King: Hermeneutics in Modern and Classic Faith Movements

Ultimately, Tozer’s “truth has two-wings” principle is needed in the issues of faith and hermeneutics to maintain a healthy tension of the contra-polarities. A.J. Gordon cited William Lincoln’s insightful commentary on the need for balancing polarities of truth: “The only way for a believer, if he wants to go rightly, is to remember that truth is always two-sided. If there is any truth that the Holy Ghost has impressed upon your heart, if you do not want to push it to the extreme, ask what is the counter-truth, and lean a little of your weight upon that; otherwise, if you bear so very much on one side of the truth, there is a danger of pushing it into a heresy. Heresy means selected truth; it does not mean error: heresy and error are very different things. Heresy is truth; but truth pushed into undue importance to the disparagement of the truth on the other side.”20 I once heard Dr. Costa Deir, Dean of Elim Bible Institute, a Pentecostal school, proclaim this balance in a perceptive motto: “It is good to be highly educated; it is better to be educated from on High; it is best to be both.”



1 Gordon Fee, The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospel (Cosa Mesa, Calif.: Word for Today, 1979), 3.
2 James W. Sire, Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1980).
3 Kenneth Copeland, cited in Fee, 3.
4 Ibid., 3, 4.
5 L. Lovett, “Positive Confession Theology,” in Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee (ed.), Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 720.
6 Dale H. Simmons, E.W. Kenyon and the Postbellum Pursuit of Peace, Power, and Plenty (Lanham, MD and London: Scarecrow Press, 1997), 108.
7 Personal conversation with Zeigler, Tulsa, Okla., 1997. See also Vreeland, “Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology,” 13.
8 Derek E. Vreeland, “Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology: A Defense, Analysis and Refinement of the Theology of the Word of Faith Movement.” Paper presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mar. 2001, 5.
9 Ibid., 12, 19. In fairness to Hagin, it should be noted that his most recent book, The Midas Touch, does show more concern for sound hermeneutics.
10 Kenneth Copeland, “The Prayer of Binding and Loosing,” sound recording. Ft. Worth, Tex.: KCP Publications, 1987.
11 Bruce Barron, The Health and Wealth Gospel (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 1987), 102.
12 Kirk R. MacGregor, “The Word-Faith Movement: A Theological Conflation of the Nation of Islam and Mormonism?” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 75, No. 1, (March 2007), 89.
13 Kenneth Hagin, The Midas Touch: A Balanced Approach to Biblical Prosperity (Tulsa, Okla.: Faith Library Publications, 2000), 147, 150-153, 161.
14 I have heard Renner admit publicly, “We faith people have done some crazy things,” and then he proceed to teach a balanced approach to faith.
15 Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ (Springdale, Penn.: Whitaker House, 1984), 162.
16 A.B. Simpson, Divine Emblems (Camp Hill, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1995), n.p.
17 A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Camp Hill, Penn.: Christian Publications, [1955] 1986), 34-37.
18 R.A. Torrey, How to Obtain Fullness of Power (New Kensington, Penn.: Whitaker, [1982] 1984), 77-78.
19 Ibid., 51. Simmons (E.W. Kenyon, 93-94), however, misunderstands Torrey’s statement as an anti-intellectual claim for not needing hermeneutics, perhaps not realizing that Torrey himself was a scholar and had studied biblical criticism at a German university.
20 A.J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing (Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, n.d.), 261-262.

This article is an excerpt from Only Believe: Examining the Origins and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies (Tulsa, OK: Word and Spirit Press, 2008). Only Believe is available through the author’s website,, and through online sellers, such as Amazon. Used with permission.

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Summer 2012

About the Author: Paul L. King holds a D.Min from Oral Roberts University and a D.Th. from the University of South Africa. He served for 16 years on the faculty of Oral Roberts University as Coordinator of Bible Institute programs and Adjunct Professor in the College of Theology and Ministry. Author of 12 books and more than 60 articles, he was ORU 2006 Scholar of the Year. He has also served as Scholar-at-Large for the D.Min. program at Alliance Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry Mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars program at United Theological Seminary and Global Awakening Theological Seminary, Leadership and Church Ministry Consultant and Trainer, an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Interim Consulting Pastor for the Plano (Texas) Chinese Alliance Church, and Faculty Director of Purdue Ratio Christi/Christian Faculty and Staff Network. His books include God's Healing Arsenal: A Divine Battle Plan for Overcoming Distress and Disease (2011), Anointed Women: The Rich Heritage of Women in Ministry in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (2009), Only Believe: Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies (2008), Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance (2006), Binding & Loosing: Exercising Authority over the Dark Powers (1999), and A Believer with Authority: The Life and Message of John A. MacMillan. Twitter: @PaulLKing.

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