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Robert Bowman: The Word-Faith Controversy

Additionally, Bowman makes a common mistake regarding Keswick teaching, saying that it rejected second-blessing theology and “advocated a model of progressive sanctification” (p. 64). In reality, there were several views within Keswick teaching, with the progressive sanctification model eventually taking the forefront. However, earlier Keswick leaders like Murray, Pierson, and Meyers taught a kind of second blessing, or subsequent crisis of sanctification, often called the filling or baptism of the Spirit.

Missing in Bowman’s book are references to two significant researchers of Kenyon, Joe McIntyre, author of E.W. Kenyon: The True Story,and Geir Lie, Norwegian Pentecostal scholar (Masters thesis, “E.W. Kenyon: Cult Founder or Evangelical Minister?”). Although McIntyre’s book is a non-critical defense of Kenyon, it is significant in that he does document Kenyon’s Keswick/Higher Life connections, which (along with Simmons and Lie) debunk the thesis of McConnell and Hanegraaff that Kenyon’s teachings are rooted in New Thought metaphysics. Nor does Bowman make mention of the Hagins’ modifications of their teachings, as can be seen in their books Take Another Look at Faith and The Midas Touch.

While I would not agree with all of Bowman’s interpretations and conclusions, I would concur essentially with his conclusion that the Word-Faith movement is “neither soundly orthodox nor thoroughly heretical” (p. 10). He has demonstrated inconsistent logic and bad fruit in some Word-Faith teaching, yet also the danger of too quickly labeling a statement as heretical.

Reviewed by Paul L. King


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Category: Ministry, Spring 2004

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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