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Theological Roots of the Word of Faith Movement: New Thought Metaphysics or Classic Faith Movements?


29 Charles H. Spurgeon, The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life (Robert Hall, comp. and ed. Lynnwood, WA: Emerald Books, 1993), 114.

30 Thomas Upham, The Life of Faith (Boston, MA: Waite, Pierce; New York, NY: Garland, [1845]1984), 238; Hannah Whitall Smith, The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It (New York, NY: Garland Publishers, {1903]), 1985), 252.

31 Simmons’ research demonstrated that holiness leaders also often spoke of laws in the sense of principles, rather than fixed mechanical laws. Simmons, 155-156. See also A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1915), 68; A.B. Simpson, A Larger Christian Life (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1988), 10-11, 137), Andrew Murray, Divine Healing (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1982), 30, Spurgeon, The Power of Prayer, 110, A.T. Pierson, The Acts of the Holy Spirit (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1980), 100.

32 Dave Hunt, The Berean Call, September 1995, 2.

33 See Simpson, A Larger Christian Life, 10, Upham ([1845] 1984:238)].

34 Jessie Penn-Lewis, Life in the Spirit (Dorset, England: Overcomer Literature Trust, 1910), 62; Jessie Penn-Lewis, Soul and Spirit (Dorset, England: Overcomer Literature Trust; Ft. Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, n.d.), 62, 68-70, 77-79), Watchman Nee, Latent Power of the Soul (New York, NY: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc., 1972).

35 McConnell, 143; see also pp. 141-145.

36 Hanegraaff, 65-71.

37 Charles H. Spurgeon, 1000 Devotional Thoughts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), 443; Arthur T. Pierson, Lessons in the School of Prayer (Dixon, MO: Rare Christian Books, n.d.), 61.

38 See King, 134-148.

39 Simpson, A Larger Christian Life, 13. See also William E. Boardman, The Higher Christian Life (Boston: H. Hoyt; Chicago: William Tomlinson; New York: Garland, [1858] 1984), 256; Charles H. Spurgeon, The Triumph of Faith in a Believer’s Life (Lynnwood, WA: Emerald Books, 1994), 36, 43, 89; Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), 253; Hannah Whitall Smith, Living Confidently in God’s Love (Springdale, PA: Whitaker, 1984), 261; The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, 55; Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 119; Simpson, A Larger Christian Life, 13; Simpson, The Life of Prayer (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1989), 60-62; Simpson, Christ in the Bible, 4:199; Mrs. Charles Cowman, Streams in the Desert (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, [1925] 1972), Vol. 1, July 7; John A. MacMillan, The Authority of the Believer (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1980), 67-68; Charles S. Price, Two Worlds (Pasadena, CA: Charles S. Price Publishing Co., 1946), 13.

40 See King, 142-143.

41 It should be noted that in contrast to modern faith teachers, classic faith writers do not believe that words are the containers of the force of faith, nor that those words can create reality Boardman, 254; Smith Wigglesworth, The Ever‑Increasing Faith. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1924), 41; Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead, and Co., [1935] 1963), 150; A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1960), 85-88. These classic leaders make it clear that it is faith imparted by God that creates, not man’s faith or his words of faith. It is important to note that the classic faith writers did not believe God is an impersonal force, but a “living force,” a force who is a living personality. Although modern faith leaders would probably claim they do not believe God is an impersonal force, their language makes the force of faith appear mechanistic. So if faith originates in God, and faith is a force from a law to which God is bound, then faith and God appear to become impersonal forces.

42 McConnell, 145, Hanegraaff, 87-95, 390.

43 Charles Farah, Jr., From the Pinnacle of the Temple: Faith or Presumption (Plainfield, NJ: Logos, n.d.), 100-103.

44 Cf. Charles S. Price, The Real Faith (Pasadena, CA: Charles S. Price Publishing Co., [1940] 1968), 52-60.

45 See Barnes Notes on the New Testament ([1884] 1985:372-373); H. D. M. and Joseph S. Exell, eds. The Pulpit Commentary (Chicago, IL: Wilcox & Follett Co., n.d.), Vol. 36, 123; Westminster Commentaries (Rawlinson 1925:38:158); The Bible Commentary (Cook [1871] 1981:7:270); Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (1959:6:220); Henry and Scott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible ([1710, 1792] 1979:3:192); Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament ([1830]:1:327); Gill’s Commentary ([1852] 1980:5:377). Montgomery pointed out that Bibles printed in 1921 give “faith of God” as an alternative translation, indicating that it was an acceptable interpretation by biblical scholars. Montgomery, The Secrets of Victory, 28.

For more examples including the 1599 Geneva Bible, Young’s Translation, Douay-Rheims Bible, Clarke, Godbey, and Wilbur M. Smith, see Troy J. Edwards, “The God-Kind of Faith—A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Defense” (n.d.), available on the Internet at

46 John Wyclif, The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments, with the Apocryphal Books (Oxford: University Press, 1850).

47 Sometimes they combined these meanings, so that the faith imparted by God is God’s own faith or faithfulness or that the supernatural faith was the very faith of God Himself. Kenyon, Robertson, Spurgeon, and Murray give alternative or dual translations, it would appear that they viewed these Scriptures as a double entendre. See King, 160-168, for a fuller discussion.

48 McIntyre exposes the fact that Hanegraaff actually interprets Greek scholar A. T. Robertson’s comments on Mark 11:22 incorrectly: “Now here is the irony. Robertson was quoted correctly, but incompletely. The whole quote was not given because it would prove embarrassing to the argument.” McIntyre, 257.

49 McConnell, 109. He elaborates, citing these parallel errors as dualism, sensory denial, perfect knowledge of God, transcending human limitations, anti-rationalism, and classification of levels of spirituality. For a critique of the revelation knowledge concept by British charismatic scholars, see Thomas Smail, Andrew Walker, and Nigel Wright, “Revelation Knowledge and Knowledge of Revelation: The Faith Movement and the Question of Heresy,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5 (1994), 57-77.

50 Hanegraaff, 172, 123, 124, 133, 159, 172, 173, 283.

51 Clement of Alexandria, “First Principles of Faith,” cited in You Give Me New Life, ed. David Hazard (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1995), 36-38.

52 See Peter Kreeft and Ronald K Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994), 369.

53 Jan Hus, “Faith Formed in Love,” Christian History, Issue 68 (Vol. 19:4) (n.d.), 33.

54 The Cloud of Unknowing, The Book of Privy Counseling, ed. William Johnson (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1973), 138-139.

55 Jacob Böhme and William Law, The Way of Divine Knowledge (Albany, OR: AGES Software, 1997), Pierson, Lessons in the School of Prayer, 23.

56 Oswald Chambers, The Psychology of Redemption (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, [1930] 1963), 20.

57 Corrie Ten Boom, Defeated Enemies (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, [1963] 1970), 23; A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1966), 49-52; A.W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1992), 120-122; A.W. Tozer, Faith Beyond Reason (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1989), 39-40.

58 See King, 187-198.

59 See my dissertation for sections discussing all of these areas.

60 A.B. Simpson, Editorial, The Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly, March 27, 1891, 195. Similarly, a more recent advocate of the classic faith movement, A. W. Tozer, rephrased it as: “Never allow the abuse of a doctrine to cancel out its use.” A. W. Tozer, cited in “Minutes of General Council 1995 and Annual Report 1994,” The Christian and Missionary Alliance, 142.

61 See Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism (New York, NY: The Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1955), 12-15, 336-347, for a discussion of elliptical thinking and polarities in biblical theology and philosophy, especially in Judaism.

62 Tozer, That Incredible Christian, 59.

63 Henry H. Knight III, “God’s Faithfulness and God’s Freedom: A Comparison of Contemporary Theologies of Healing,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 2, (1993) 65-89, discusses the polarities of God’s freedom and God’s faithfulness in relationship to faith theologies of healing.


This article was first presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies which was held March 11-13, 2004 at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


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Category: Church History, Spring 2011

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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