I’ve picked on the occult, media, Messianic Judaism, Harry Potter, and Beth Moore. I’ve picked on “spiritual disciplines”, tithing, and missionaries, “Purpose-Driven”/Emerging churches, pragmatism, Biblical authority, ecumenism, and a variety of Christian-living topics.
But until now I haven’t picked on the one topic that can make me mad as a hornet, quicker than anything (which surprises me, actually). I am usually passionate, though diplomatic about topics, even more so when speaking to non-Christians.
I enjoy the mutual exchanging of questions and learning about other people (but I do not like accusations). This subject however, brings a lot of personal emotions to the surface because I lived this worldview for a brief and very painful time.
Putting my faith in sincere and well-intentioned spiritual elders, my spouse and I bought into this worldview hook, line, and sinker at the start of our young marriage, and especially when our first-born was diagnosed with a fatal heart anomaly in utero.
We were promised that “if we had faith” (if we believed hard enough) God would have to heal her. We read in proponents’ books, about certain “spiritual laws” that God was bound by (ha!). We were told that only certain people must be told about the baby’s condition; those discerning few who really knew how to pray “correctly” for her; to “pray believing”.
Here is an example (from CBN’s website) on how to pray believing for “your personal” miracle (though they give themselves an out by not guaranteeing your desired outcome). http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/CBNTeachingSheets/Can_I_Be_Healed.aspx
To my eternal regret, we hurt and deceived a lot of people by essentially lying about the baby’s condition, because if you admitted there was a problem, even allowed yourself the tiniest thought there might be a problem, you wouldn’t get your miracle (in New Age circles this idea is called “positive thinking” to an extreme, and obviously unhealthy end).
In my naiveté and desperate hope, I clung to the belief my baby would live even after she lay dead in my husband’s arms. I firmly believed God would bring her back from the dead (and I know now how crazy this all sounds) and awe all the nay-saying doctors.
It wasn’t until her graveside funeral a week later, when we pulled up to the outdoor awning and I saw her casket, that reality finally hit me. It hit me so hard I refused to get out of the car. I didn’t want that reality; that was not what I had worked and prayed and vainly hoped and “believed in faith” so hard for.
But the death of my Elizabeth Ann nearly nine years ago, has spurred me to look before I leap, and research and study my Bible harder than ever. I can now say unequivocally that the Word of Faith movement doesn’t work based on my experience, and it is very un-Biblical.
The most hurtful thing after Elizabeth’s death was the lack of apology on the part of those who had pushed their beliefs so hard. Rather than admitting the obvious (this system failed), they pulled away from my husband and I and grew distant and remained quiet. Worst of all, they continue to believe in and promote this garbage.
That is when I become very angry. The same people who convinced me of their beliefs and themselves held my dead baby or attended or spoke at the funeral, refuse to admit their mistake and seem intent on dragging other people through the hell that I went through.
It may just be my perception, but it appears this movement is growing. Take note however: this movement is merely witchcraft* in disguise. The idea of having to say prayer in a particular (i.e. ritualistic, formulaic, or prescribed) manner is a key occult practice; they call it incantation or spell-casting.
The idea that God must abide by/is bound by certain rules He laid out in His creation seems blasphemous-we can never be God’s puppeteers. But this is also a key occult practice; trying to bend the natural or supernatural world and its residents to a “knowledgeable” (i.e. magician) human will.
A third underlying idea is that of keeping secrets, or being made to feel elite in the secret mysteries and understandings of God. The word “occult” literally means “hidden”, and there have always been a plethora of secret societies and mystery religions.
But Christianity is not one of them. The Bible is a collection of historical accounts on all the ways the God of the Bible has revealed Himself to people (not just the Israelites) throughout the ages. Daniel 2:47 says God is a “revealer of mysteries”. As God He could be mysterious, but He desires to be known by us and has revealed Himself for our benefit (http://www.gci.org/god/is2).
Other occult aspects that a particular Word of Faith group may or may not be involved in include divination (reading “signs from God” in tea leaves, hair, wood, screen doors, bird migration patterns, bones, entrails, etc.); protective amulets and talismans including lucky charms, blessed cross necklaces and the like (see: http://www.amuletgifts.com/Christian-Amulets/);
astrology (reading the stars to determine God’s path for your life, like horoscopes); “special” prayers, blessings, or adjurations (words against demons) to bring health, wealth, children, etc. (like this: http://www.thejabezprayer.com/); music, scents (candles, oils, or incense-also known as aromatherapy), gems, or herbs with purported (i.e. not scientifically backed) properties/powers/abilities, especially in the area of healing or cleansing the spirit (see: http://www.tbnwebstore.org/product.asp?sku=0793573777690 or http://www.abbaoil.com/c-9-anointing-oil.aspx);
rituals or formulaic practices for better communion with God, protection, healing, cleansing, etc. (labyrinths, special prayer routines, meditation/contemplative practices, spiritual disciplines, extreme positive thinking, being in God’s presence**, etc. etc.)
Understand those who practice these things generally have a scripture or two or three that appear to back their position. After having studied my Bible a bit better, I have come to the realization that God did not fail my family, false prophets did.
It is so vital to not just read a passage in context of its sentence, but in some cases whole sections and even several chapters are needed to understand it in full (this is where many devotional books and Bible studies fail).
If you want to get to know God better, simple prayer and Bible reading is the only way to do it. It is not glamorous and will not usually involve an experience. It will not cater to our human nature to act on or do something. And the Bible does not promise health, wealth, protection, or mysteries to unravel. The only way to “spiritually detox” is through repentance, forgiveness, and the grace of the cross.
*It is rather ironic that practitioners of this movement like to define rebellion as synonymous with “witchcraft”, based on the misunderstanding of 1 Sam. 15:23 (here is an example of this misunderstanding turned “ministry”: http://www.mcleanministries.com/custom.html).
**Being “in God’s presence” or inviting the Holy Spirit “to come” is a nice, super-Christian thought. But if we are Christians, the Bible says we have the Holy Spirit (which is God) living in us, Romans 8:11, Acts 2:4, John 3:34, and John 20:22.
Therefore, we cannot invite the Holy Spirit to come more, nor can we purposefully cultivate a sense of God’s presence. These are merely emotional or supernatural highs that we can easily become addicted to. Remember also the Bible also describes a deceptive Satan and demons, as well as God and His angels.
Below are a host of other sources for your researching pleasure, but as always please do balanced research and always read your Bible in context. (Note: the last link is to a book I was given to read and be “inspired” by for my “faith”)