The Occult Power Behind The “Word Faith” Movement (Richard Howe)

Here is a good video on the occult aspect of the word-faith movement via THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog). One can listen to some of the offending audio here: WOF AUDIO

Cornterstone Church – Dr. Richard Howe teaches at the Apologetics Summit on November 16, 2013. Howe speaks on alleged Christians (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer, etc.) who may be practicing the occult in the pulpit.

“Teach by Contrast” | Walter Martin’s Last Time on TBN

This from MORIEL MINISTRIES (2011) explaining a bit about the above:

In light of another Calvary Chapel pastor making an appearance on TBN’s Praise-the-Lord program, I thought it apropos to share a tape in my collection of how a Bible believer should behave when invited onto TBN or any of the other errant “Christian” networks. What sort of message is communicated when a solid Bible teacher shares the platform with heretics and does not bring reproof? Certainly it gives the impression that the guest endorses the teaching of the hosts and /or founder of the Christian network.

Some argue that if they can’t go on TBN due to its corruption, then they couldn’t show up on ABC, NBC or CBS either. They don’t understand the distinction between being salt and light to the unsaved world and practicing biblical separation from so-called Christians who are spreading false teaching against Jesus Christ. To the unsaved, we can use their media to spread the Gospel, but to the errant brother we are to bring correction and divide if they do not stop their false teaching. For a proof-text consider 1 Corinthians 5:11:

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner””not even to eat with such a person.”

When Calvary Chapel Albuquerque’s pastor Skip Heitzig went on TBN last week acting like he and his host Phil Munsey were old friends, it was a shame to the spirit of that passage. Phil Munsey and his brother Steve Munsey are two of the most infamous extortioners in the field of Christian television. Munsey has used new age ideas of paradigm shifts and panentheism to spread his unbiblical dominionist views.

In contrast to the compromisers, the late Walter Martin tried to bring correction the last time he made an appearance on TBN. This video tape has never circulated and has not been available anywhere until now that I have posted it to YouTube.

Back in 1985 my younger sister was Martin’s secretary. She and my older sister and I all regularly attended his weekly Bible study. I used to share my research with him and also with my friend author Dave Hunt. Walter and Dave disagreed on many things regarding their styles of apologetics and discernment. Whenever there was a difference of opinion between the two of them, I usually agreed with Dave.

I had had some discussion with Dr. Martin over Dave’s book, The Seduction of Christianity. Walter had been critical about it on the radio having never read it but based his criticisms upon what his personal editor had told him.

One day my older sister was watching Praise-the-Lord when Hal Lindsey was a guest. He was her pastor at that time. Back then Hal used to challenge the teaching of other TBN regulars and Paul Crouch put up with it. However, that got old with the Crouches and when Hal wouldn’t stop criticizing the Kingdom Now doctrine, he was put on the shelf until he learned to kow-tow to them. When my sister heard Hal bring up Walter’s name in the show, Paul and Jan agreed that he was a brilliant man and Hal said you should have him on some time. They both responded – oh sure we will.

So she informed our little sister who told Walter and Walter told her to call TBN and arrange it which she did. However, the Crouches wouldn’t host him so they got prophecy teacher Doug Clark to do so. My younger sister called me on the day of the taping saying that Walter wanted me to go through Dave Hunt’s book, The Seduction of Christianity and highlight things he would be in agreement with. I was happy to do so for him. He used that information to challenge TBN’s blackballing of Dave Hunt and other whistle-blowers.

I stayed home to work the VCR I didn’t know how to program, while my two sisters attended, one in the green room and one in the audience we had stacked with many friends. Walter gave it to them with both barrels. Not only was the program not replayed at its regular slot, but the tapes were not available when people followed up to request one. Back in those days any Praise-the-Lord program could be bought on audio cassette for a small fee. And both Walter Martin and Doug Clark were never invited back. We had heard years later from Doug Clark that during the interview he kept receiving notes from the stage manager telling him to “shut that guy up” and other nasty notes….

Jesus “Descension” Into Hell

There are three notable perspectives:

  1. Christ spent his three days suffering the wrath of God.
  2. Christ spent his three days proclaiming his victory over the Satanic kingdom.
  3. Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament believers who dwelt in a separated portion of the netherworld.

(Blue Letter Bible)

Here is a look at the non-Biblical version of this view that Jesus descended into hell:

  • I pray he went to the bottom of Hell, because if he didn’t, you’d have to go. You better hope he took on every sickness and disease. You better hope he suffered every pain that could ever be felt because whatever he didn’t take on you and I would have to take on. But I thank God that he took it all upon his self. (Joyce Meyers also said Jesus went to hell showing her affiliation with this heresy). – Creflo Dollar

(Let Us Reason).

  • Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross…. It wasn’t a physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin…anybody can do that…. He [Jesus] allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell….He allowed Himself to come under Satan’s control…every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him….They tortured Him beyond anything anybody had ever conceived. For three days He suffered everything there is to suffer. – Kenneth Copeland

(Word on the Word Faith)

(Word on the Word Faith h-t for the above videos)

The main issue with this false doctrine is that it renders the work on the cross null… here is a good clip of Mark Driscoll explaining the issue well. (This was a clip from Mark’s sermon, “Suffering to Learn – 1 Peter 3:17-22“):

Here as well is a quick confrontation by WATCHMAN explaining the core of the deviation,

…Another is the distortion of what Jesus meant on the cross when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The teachers of this movement emphasize the “spiritual” death of Christ almost to the exclusion of His “physical” death. The problem with this is simply that it is unbiblical. The Bible’s emphasis is on the physical death of Christ, not the spiritual. The teaching of scripture is: “Without shedding of blood (physical) is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22, parenthesis mine).

As regarding Christ’s words, “It is finished”, the word in the Greek is tetelistai and is rendered “to bring to an end” or “paid for in full” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). What Christ was saying was that the work of redemption (paying for sin and securing salvation) was complete. If Christ did anything else beyond “It is finished,” in order to pay for sin, something is added to His completed work. This is what the Word-Faith teachers have done when they teach that salvation was completed in hell, after Christ died on the cross!…

For a dealing with Joel Osteen’s view, see a post entitled, “Joel Osteen’s False Teaching That Jesus went to Hell, by Lori Eldridge.” The implications of this false view of “It Is Finished” is noted by Matt Slick of CARM:


The implications of Jesus’ words on the cross are eternally positive for those who repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior–by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. However, the implications of Jesus’ words on the cross are eternally negative for any organization or individual who seeks to add to, detract from, or replace not only Jesus’ words on the cross, but also the work He accomplished to the glory of God the Father.

Every man-made religion and each of their faithful adherents stand, right now, in the cross-hairs of God’s wrath. “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:34-36).

  1. Roman Catholicism denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross through the practice and observance of the mass. During the mass, through the unbiblically magical art of transubstantiation (Jesus literally becoming the bread and the wine), Jesus must sacrifice Himself again and again for sin.
  2. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by denying Christ died on the cross and by insisting one must be a member of the Watchtower Society and obey the Law of God to receive their demonic brand of salvation.
  3. Mormonism denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by adding their perceived righteousness and works to their ungodly salvation process. According to 2 Nephi 25:23, in the Book of Mormon, salvation is by grace, plus works. “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
  4. Islam denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by seeing Jesus as nothing more than a prophet, second to their false prophet Muhammad. They also believe it was Judas (a treacherous false convert), not Jesus, who died on the cross.

But the implications of Jesus’ words on the cross extend beyond false religions and into American Evangelicalism.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by spending time and resources wooing the unsaved to the “Christian Club” instead of calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how many times I have heard the testimonies of professing Christians–testimonies that culminate with happy membership at a church and not with the bending of the knee, in repentance and by faith, at the foot of the cross.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, diminishing the gospel as the power of God for salvation, by insisting Jesus and the gospel need the help of man’s innovation and perceived ability to make the gospel more palatable. This is demonstrated through gimmicks, sales pitches, bait and switch tactics, and playing to the primal desires of health, wealth, prosperity, ease, comfort, and happiness without accountability.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by teaching unbiblical mantras such as:

  • “Christians have to earn the right to share the gospel with someone.”
  • “Unbelievers need to see Jesus in you before they will hear what you have to say.”
  • “People need to hear more than ‘Jesus can forgive your sins and give you eternal life.’ They need help with the real problems they’re facing today.”

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by failing to distinguish service, helps, and hospitality from evangelism, which is the actual and literal presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and bound for Hell.

And the list goes on…

And It Does


A person on my YouTube pointed something out…. and it is this: that there are orthodox views about this “visit” to hell. Period. Here is his comment:

  • The bible says in 1 peter 3:19 that he went to hell to proclaim his victory, not to suffer. the false doctrine isn’t that he went to hell, it is that it had anything to do with atonement.

HANK HANEGRAAFF reigns is the idea to allow for Biblical views rather than just one narrow view:

“Trump’s” Televangelist, Mark Burns’ Bio Falls Apart

Cross posted at: THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)

Yes, when a campaign merely relies on “black” and “pastor” while not fully understanding the depths of false narratives typically associated with televangelists theology as well as one’s own self aggrandizement (ego) involved in such money making careers… you will invariably run into such issues as we see below:

Following links from “Pastor” Burns show we find some of his compatriots listed HERE (a “who’s who” of false teachers).

Jennifer Garner’s Return to “Faith”

May I say, not only is the movie about a miracle, but the miracle continued on in Jennifer Garner’s life and kids life. I just hope it is a church that can guard their walk in their faith by teaching them the completeness of God’s Word and our worldview.

Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity…. The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can function in much the same way. When someone looks at the world from the perspective of the wrong worldview, the world won’t make much sense to him. Or what he thinks makes sense will, in fact, be wrong in important respects. Putting on the right conceptual scheme, that is, viewing the world through the correct worldview, can have important repercussions for the rest of the person’s understanding of events and ideas…. Instead of thinking of Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, we should approach our faith as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view.

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 9, 17-18, 19.

THAT BEING SAID, if that is T.D. Jakes sitting next to her (in the below video)… and that is the church she is going to… well, good luck. There are some well founded concerns about his teachingsto say the least.

This comes by way of NewsBusters:

….During a Q&A, Garner admitted that Los Angeles, her current home, is a difficult place to openly discuss faith.

“[Faith] has become very political,” she said. “If you’re a person of faith, you are so on the outside, that there’s no way to bridge to somebody that’s ‘normal.’”

But, she stressed, this movie was different: people would discuss faith on set constantly. Besides that, the film itself normalizes faith.

“[I]t’s a normal, wonderful family who happened to have leaned on their faith, to guide them through the hardest thing in their lives,” Garner pressed.

Those aspects of the film led her and her family back to church.

I will say that being around this community, and while I’ve always gone to church back home in West Virginia, when we got back to Los Angeles… I was talking to my kids about the movie and they said, ‘Mom, you don’t take us to church,’ and we went that Sunday, and we – they went today without me. I mean, they – that, that decision – and that was a direct gift from this movie and so, for that, I’m very grateful.


Garner wanted a part in the film as soon as she read Beam’s best-selling memoir, the movie’s inspiration.

“I stayed awake all night after reading Miracles from Heaven,” Garner told People magazine last year. “There was something about this family, this mother and daughter, and this telling of the story that I felt I just had to be a part of.” …

Jesse Duplantis Prosperity Gospel ~ 2015 Edition

Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio ends his look at Jesse Duplantis’ cultic teachings of the Health and Wealth “Gospel” saying that Jesse is not on “team Jesus’ side.” Funny.

For more sound doctrinal discussions, see:

Tower Of Babel ~ True History or Ancient Fairy-tale?

This post is a response to the Word Faith teacher, Jesse Duplantis, but also to skeptics of Biblical history. This post is an updated version to the one I posted at The WORD on the Word Faith Movement a long time ago. As with other matters of faith Jesse is wrong in this matter — both in his use of Biblical text as well as his history.

Saddam Hussein was also obsessed with this history, as this article shows.

The Greek historian, Herodotus, about 500 B.C., described the structure, which then consisted of a series of eight ascending towers, each one recessed in turn, with a spiral roadway running around it as a means of climbing to the top.

Babylonian legend (of which we’ll get to) asserted that it had originally been built by Nimrod, which coincides with the Biblical record.  In fact, the region, about ten miles southwest of Babylon’s center is still called Birs Nimroud.  The structure as Herodotus described it was more than seven hundred feet tall, of which three hundred feet remain to this day.

The descendants of Noah built this tower.  The list of primeval nations in Genesis 10, “the Table of Nations”, is by far the most complete and accurate listing of the tribes and nations of antiquity.  One of the world’s greatest archaeologists, William F. Albright, called it “an astonishingly accurate document.”  It lists the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (the three sons of Noah) and indicates what regions they settled. (For an excellent book that is free online in its entirety, I recommend: After the Flood.) Many historical documents from many cultures trace back their ancestry to these three “sons of Noah.” The ziggurats, and pyramids, and bow & arrow, as well as boomerangs being used and built by every culture on every continent is a hint to mankind all living together at one time; and having common technology.


Many scientists who study the origin of languages, known as philologists, have concluded that it is probable that the thousands of dialects and languages can be traced back to an original language in man’s ancient past. Professor Alfredo Trombetti (Italian linguist) claims that he can prove the common origin of all languages. Max Mueller, one of the greatest oriental language scholars, declared that all human languages can be traced back to one single oriental language. Chinese is the most ancient (although probably not the original [root] language), fully recorded, still used, language around, going back to over 3,000 years ago.

 photo Chinese-Boat.gif  photo Chinese-Forbidden.gif  photo Chinese-Garden.gif

Scientific American notes the history of all languages coming from a single source when they note that languages “as diverse as English, Russian and Hindi can trace their roots back more than 8,000 years to Anatolia — now in modern-day Turkey.” Scientific American continues:

That’s the conclusion of a study that assessed 103 ancient and contemporary languages using a technique normally used to study the evolution and spread of disease. The researchers hope that their findings can settle a long-running debate about the origins of the Indo-European language group.

English, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Greek and Hindi might all sound very different, but there are many commonalities, such as the Dutch moeder, Spanish madre and Russian mat’, all of which mean “mother”. On this basis, researchers have concluded that more than a hundred languages across Europe and the Middle East, from Iceland to Sri Lanka, stem from a common ancestor.

True Origins, a site dedicated in-large-part to responding to Talk Origins, notes that many evolutionary theories/theorists postulate a single source for all our languages,

Many evolutionary linguists believe that all human languages have descended from a single, primitive language, which itself evolved from the grunts and noises of the lower animals. The single most influential “hopeful monster” theory of the evolution of human language was proposed by the famous linguist from MIT, Noam Chomsky, and has since been echoed by numerous linguists, philosophers, anthropologists, and psychologists. Chomsky argued that the innate ability of children to acquire the grammar necessary for a language can be explained only if one assumes that all grammars are variations of a single, generic ‘universal grammar’, and that all human brains come “with a built-in language organ that contains this language blueprint.”

See a creationist take on this, here.

Ancient History 101

The French government sent Professor Oppert to report on the cuneiform inscriptions discovered in the ruins of Babylon.  Oppert translated a long inscription by King Nebuchadnezzar in which the king referred to the tower in the Chaldean language as Barzipp, which means “Tongue-Power.”  The Greeks used the word Borsippa, with the same meaning of Tongue-power, to describe the ruins of the Tower of Babel.  This inscription of Nebuchadnezzar clearly identified the original tower of Borsippa with the Tower of Babel described by Moses in Genesis. King Nebuchadnezzar decided to rebuild the base of the ancient Tower of Babel, built over sixteen centuries earlier by Nimrod, the first King of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt the city of Babylon in great magnificence with gold, silver, cedar, and fir, at great cost on top of a hard surface of baked clay bricks. These bricks were engraved with the seal of Nebuchadnezzar.  At the base of the Tower of Babel is this inscription by King Nebuchadnezzar that, in his own words from thousands of years ago, confirm one of the most amazing events of the ancient past.

Here is a picture (right) from a newly discovered find Discovery Channel notes in their “archaeology” section:

A team of scholars has discovered what might be the oldest representation of the Tower of Babel of Biblical fame, they report in a newly published book.

Carved on a black stone, which has already been dubbed the Tower of Babel stele, the inscription dates to 604-562 BCE.

It was found in the collection of Martin Schøyen, a businessman from Norway who owns the largest private manuscript assemblage formed in the 20th century.

Consisting of 13,717 manuscript items spanning over‭ ‬5,000‭ ‬years, the collection includes parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Buddhist manuscript rescued from the Taliban, and even cylcon symbols by Australia’s Aborigines which can be up to 20,000 years old.

The collection also includes a large number of pictographic and cuneiform tablets — which are some of the earliest known written documents — seals and royal inscription spanning most of the written history of Mesopotamia, an area near modern Iraq.


“Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure,” the Schøyen Collection stated on its website.

Take note even “bar-tabs” were discussed from the time.


“The tower, the eternal house, which I founded and built.  I have completed its magnificence with silver, gold, other metals, stone, enameled bricks, fir and pine.  The first which is the house of the earth’s base, the most ancient monument of Babylon; I built and finished it.  I have highly exalted its head with bricks covered with copper.  We say for the other, that is, this edifice, the house of the seven lights of the earth the most ancient monument of Borsippa.  A former king built it, (they reckon 42 ages) but he did not complete its head.  Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.  Since that time the earthquake and the thunder had dispersed the sun-dried clay.  The bricks of the casing had been split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps.  Merodach, the great god, excited my mind to repair this building.  I did not change the site nor did I take away the foundation. In a fortunate month, in an auspicious day, I undertook to build porticoes around the crude brick masses, and the casing of burnt bricks. I adapted the ciruits, I put the inscription of my name in the Kitir of the portico. I set my hand to finish it.  And to exalt its head.  As it had been done in ancient days, so I exalted its summit.”

(See more at WIKI, and, Bible Probe)

This inscription was translated by Professor Oppert. In addition, Mr. William Loftus translated this fascinating inscription in his book, Travels and Researches in Chaldea and Sinai. This incredible inscription confirms the Biblical accuracy of one of the most fascinating stories in the Book of Genesis.

Wikipedia gets in on the action as well:

…The Tower of Babel has been associated with known structures according to some modern scholars, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk by Nabopolassar, king of Babylonia (c. 610 BCE). The Great Ziggurat of Babylon was 91 metres (300 ft) in height. Alexander the Great ordered it demolished circa 331 BCE in preparation for a reconstruction that his death forestalled. A Sumerian story with some similar elements is told in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta…

The pagan king Nebuchadnezzar confirms in his own words the incredible details that a “former king built it, but he did not complete its head,” confirming the truthfulness of the Genesis account that God stopped the original builders from completing the top of the Tower of Babel.  Most significantly, King Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription declares that the reason the original king could not complete the tower was because, “Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.”  In other words, they lost the ability to control their language and communication!

Compare the statement of Nebuchadnezzar, “A former king built it, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it,” with the words of Moses in Genesis 11:7; “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.”  Even more startling is the phrase of the pagan king where he declared that the reason they could not complete the top of the “Tongue-tower” was that the “people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.”



Tower of Babel a real place;

✦ Herodotus confirms;
✦ Alexander the Great’s historians confirm;
✦ Cuniform discoveries support as well (found in the collection of Martin Schøyen as one example).


✦ Non-Biblical archaeology shows that there was an event dealing with its destruction.


✦ Non-Biblical archaeology shows that there was an event at the Tower dealing with language;
✦ Ancient Chinese history also support this idea.


✦ Linguists support this
✦ Science journals support this

This equals a pretty amazing “coincidence” in my book. Biblical History is wonderfully rich.

Mark 11:20-25, “Moving Mountains: Faith in Faith” (My First Sermon)

(The was originally presented in front of some really great guys on 4-15-10, tax-day)

...Introduction to this Teaching

add_toon_info.phpWhy This Post? This post was inspired by my father’s passing, caused mainly by his understanding of theology and the Bible via the Word Faith movement (WOF). These set of verses (Mark 11:20-25) are some of the most misused/misinterpreted by the WOF folks in it’s application.

  • Was it a verse meant for us? Or was it Jesus explaining to the Jewish mind who He was? Thus clearly pointing out that He was God Almighty?

My father was heavily influenced by the Word Faith movement, and by choosing these set of commonly cited verses for my teaching, I hope to do yeoman’s work in getting people to study further their faith and to point people toward Jesus and not their own works: their faith.

Keep in mind that I envision this presentation being in the middle of a series dealing with a few of the main “proof texts” for the Word Faith movement. While this is not a traditional sermon, this would be fitting for a Saturday night series or adult class series. There would also be copious amounts of overhead use for the congregation to get the most bang for their attendance.

(I will add some media, audio links, and the like to this update… because, I can.)

I do wish to recommend a well written dealing with these issues, “Sickness and Suffering in Light of Christ.”


This sermon is one I am ambivalent to preach, there are not any funny stories or happy endings, merely a call to preserve “the faith once and for all given to the saints.” Before we dive in however, since it is the day we give to Caesar what is Caesars, I figured a thought experiment would be fitting:

  1. On a dark street, a man draws a knife and demands my money for drugs.
  2. Instead of demanding my money for drugs, he demands it for the Church.
  3. Instead of being alone, he is with a bishop of the Church who acts as the bagman.
  4. Instead of drawing a knife, he produces a policeman who says I must do as he says.
  5. Instead of meeting me on the street, he mails me his demand as an official agent of the government.

If the first is theft, it is difficult to see why the other four are not also theft.

A jab at high taxes aside, contending for the faith can be a grueling job, considering all the variations offered to us.

  1. What is a proper definition of faith?
  2. How can it be applied to our lives?

A sound understanding of faith may take some patience and thoughtful understanding today as we tackle just a few of the many differences between a healthy faith and the kind that leads to a very troubled praxeology (<< click to jump to definition). We will take the time here to look at some of the key concepts of a healthy faith through a verse many times misapplied. How one interprets Mark 11:20-25 will tell you a lot about a person’s understanding of faith. Again, the verse we will be reading from is Mark 11:20-25, so if you are ready we will jump in.

Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Then Peter remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.” Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.” 

This verse is often used to make the point that OUR FAITH IS BIG ENOUGH to remove any aliment that besets us. It is often combined with another verse from Isaiah 53:5 that reads in-part, “by Your stripes we are healed.” As you will find, however, context and historical setting are key to a proper understanding of working out these types of verses into our everyday lives and the impact they have on our personal faith. We will cover just a few topics in this presentation, they are:

  1. How these verses are misused by some, and subsequently faith;
  2. we will discuss some of the Jewish cultural context and history involved;
  3. and finally, we will look at an oft overlooked interpretation of these verses.

Starting with how faith is often misused by many of the faithful, we will consider what Pastor Bob DeWaay calls anthropogenic fundamentalism.

  • The term anthropogenic fundamentalism can simply be defined for our purposes as a “man-centered faith,” rather than “God-centered faith.”

Or, man trying to capture what God only provides and make it his own.

E.W. Kenyon, sometimes called the grandfather of the Word-Faith movement, wrote a book entitled, Two Kinds of Faith, in which we find Kenyon saying that “a spiritual law few of us have recognized is that our confessions rule us.”

Kenneth Hagin, who is known as the father of the Word-Faith movement, has taken bits-and-pieces from Kenyon and well-known faith healer William Branham and ordered them into a systematic word-faith doctrine/theology, culminating in the opening of Rhema Bible Institute in 1974. Mark 11:23 was one of Hagin’s favorite verses he used to justify his,

  • creating verbalized capsules of thinking by “laws of faith” that control one’s circumstances with “formulas.” (my own definition)

This was a big-deal to him, even coining the term “have faith in your faith.”

In contradistinction Calvin says that…

  • True faith “unites us to Christ and inserts us into His body creating the bond that enables us to receive, posses, and enjoy Christ Himself.” This is Calvin’s “union with Christ by Spirit worked faith.”

True faith is God centered, and aligns us — or tries to — with God’s will. Not the other way around. There are many examples of what faith should not be, but one James Montgomery Boice mentions that can replace true faith is optimism. Which he simply defines as a “mental attitude which is to cause the thing believed in to happen.”

In this “faith in your faith” aspect, you will never hear a person graduating from Rhema pray like Christ did in Matt 26:39:

  • “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Faith is a force & James 4 is stupid:

A.H. Strong points out that God does “not change his mind when men pray, or when they believe… as [God] fulfills his purpose by inspiring true prayer, so he fulfills his purpose by giving faith.” Finishing his thought Strong quotes Augustine, “He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe….”


You see, we want a faith that unites us to Christ and His work, nothing of ourselves. In Reformational thinking, we are not even capable of generating this kind of faith. Take note that Ephesians 2:8 ends with “it is a gift of God.” John McArthur points out that faith is included as preceding this statement. By contrast, Kenneth Hagin makes his concept of faith clear when he enumerates his understanding of Mark 11:23:

  1. He believes in his heart,
  2. He believes in his words. Another way to say this is:
  1. He has faith in his own faith . . . Having faith in your words is having faith in your faith.”

Notice this Christ-centeredness in Galatians 2:16-17 fleshed out by the International Standard Version:

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for no human being will be justified by the works of the law.”

According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. The “onus,” the, is put into proper perspective.

As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:

“I am sure of this, that He who(a) started a good work in you will(b) carry it on to completion until(c) the day of Christ Jesus.”

To be clear:

  1. HE started the Good work [salvation];
  2. HE will carry it out;
  3. HE will complete it.

This “optimism” in one’s faith that Boice warned us of, rather than a God Centered faith is really an old heresy that started with the early influence of Gnosticism on the Desert FathersIf you do not know about these mysterious persons that are so influential on the emergent version of this Gnostic heresy, here is a quick introduction.

These early Desert Fathers were small isolated communities that separated themselves in order to follow God in solitude. They were the early monks, so-to-speak, and were based primarily in the area stretching along the Nile river in Egypt.

Originally refugees during the persecution of Christian’s at the hands of the Roman’s, later, they became outposts that attracted many Christian ascetics and hermits.

About this same time and place Gnostics were busy writing their texts, the biggest find of which was at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, also along the Nile. Something, I argue, influenced some of these desert hermits greatly. For example, paleo-theologian Thomas Oden, in his Systematic Theology mentions the following:

  • Amma Theodora, one of the fourth-century ascetic Desert Mothers, recognized the principle that when “one believes one is ill” the soul tends toward illness. She tells a story of a monk who was seized by cold and fever and horrible headaches every time he began to pray. … one day she said to herself, ‘I am ill, and near to death; so now I will get up before I die and pray,” yet simply by getting up, her fever abated. Merely by doing something positive – just getting up – she was taking a step of faith that tended toward her health. (adapted)

Apologist Robert Bowman documents in his book The Word Faith-Controversy Hagin’s view of “stepping out in faith”

  • Hagin claims that since 1933 he has never had a headache. This claim should probably be taken with a grain of salt (or perhaps an aspirin!) — since, Hagin has admitted that if he did have a headache he would never tell anyone he did. … he did admit once that his “head started hurting” but claims that by telling the devil, “In the name of Jesus I do not have a headache,” the pain went away. So when Hagin says he has not had a headache or been sick since 1933, he means he has never admitted to such ailments. (adapted)

[The headache theme will come up again.] So this Mind/body dichotomy found in Eastern thinking which infected the early church in some form via Gnosticism was seemingly addressed in-part early in Paul’s ministry as documented in Corinthians 15.

Now, As some may know, others here may not, my father was deeply involved in this understanding of faith. He would routinely claim financial success and good health as a matter of habit… neither of which he ever truly possessed. A few years back he was very-very sick.

He looked and felt awful.

However, he refused to go to the hospital, instead, he spoke health and healing to his body. When he finally acquiesced to the pain that C.S. Lewis says is our body verbalizing that something is wrong, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.

  • In case you do not know, colon cancer is one of the most survivable cancers one could contract today.

Rejecting his doctors advice of immediate surgery, my father found renewed vigor that he wasn’t truly sick — even yelling at me in the doctor’s office:

  • “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!” (pointing an accusing finger at me)

In surreal fashion and doggedly claiming that this sickness was curable via faith in his faith, his body no longer allowed him the option of denial and he gave way to his doctor’s advice. Even with surgery, he had waited too long.

On October 25th, 2008, I was reading Scripture to my dad who was recently sent home with me diagnosed with two-months to live when his breathing started getting worse than it already was. I stopped reading from the Word and started to fluff the pillows and blankets surrounding my father. He managed to gasp “help” and shortly thereafter was strong enough to cry a bit…


…did I…

…all the while telling him that I loved him while wiping the drool from his mouth and the sweat from his brow.

I could not dial 911 or call for help because my father was sent home with us for this reason… to pass as comfortable as possible.

All I could do is watch my father suffocate to death. He looked scared. I suspect for a few reasons, one is man’s tendency to not want to die.

Another reason is that if your faith is connected to your health and your health fails… failing faith in God’s finished work on the cross is not far behind.

He was coming to the stark reality that his theology was flawed and death is a one-for-one statistic.

While I know the work wrought on Calvary’s Cross was bigger than my dad’s praxeology, his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people in a healthy well balanced manner. Even shortening his own life considerably.

Let me repeat that: his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people.

Another example of faith gone awry is told by a fellow contributor to a group blog dealing with the Word-Faith heresy. This is the story of John Edwards and his struggle to come to terms with a cultic understanding of Biblical doctrine:

After John had graduated from Rhema Bible Institute — having his degree conferred to him by Kenneth Hagin — he founded and pastored over a church for some years all the while living and teaching this formulaic view of faith.

His children were steeped in this belief system. One day his daughter fell very ill, so John and his wife brought her to the emergency room. They were told that their daughter had inoperable brain cancer.

The doctors were at a loss.

Usually this illness showed some signs that would possibly have allowed them to save her life.

John and his wife, after talking to their daughter, were horrified to learn that she had in fact been getting horrible headaches for quite some time. Staying true to her accepted theology she would dutifully rebuke these headaches and go on with her ignoring of them in light of her optimism.

Needless to say John is no longer affiliated with the Word Faith movement.

Thankfully, he is still a Christian. Praise God! (His testimony is HERE)

John touches many lives for the better after he disbanded his church and wrote on his experiences. Many, however, walk away from the faith after their disillusionment is excised through the circumstances of life.

These two stark examples ~ my own and John’s ~ are the consequences of anthropomorphic fundamentalism: making oneself god in some sense of the word by guiding your own faith rather than allowing Godly faith in.

Another important aspect that seems to be missed by these Word Faith types is that the Bible incorporates parables, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, and history. Within these categories you will find metaphors, hyperbole, symbols, and elevated language.

For instance, in Psalm 91:4 we read, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”

Obviously God the Father being Spirit, known only by God the Son, does not have literal feathers. Reading on in the verse we find it is a metaphor for God protecting us like armor — just more comfortably… metaphorically speaking.

A quick break

In Christianity it is clear that God the Father is Spirit, and does not posses a body. John 4:24 reads:

  • God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

However, In the Word Faith cult, they change this clear teaching.

God the Father is a man:

God the Father is from another planet:

(See, Got Questions?)

Likewise, we find commonly used in the Jewish texts of the day speech about “removing mountains” as metaphorical for an “infinitely long or virtually impossible task accomplished only by the most pious of rabbi’s.”

James Brooks in his commentary on Mark mentions that Mark 11:23 may be an “allusion… to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete.” Jesus was speaking to, directly, the “Judaizers” of His day in this “sermon” pointing to the fulfillment of his soon to be culminated mission. You see, since we are considered “priests” or “rabbi’s” in God’s new and better covenant we do not rely on our own piousness, a Priest’s standing with God, or formulas ~ but Christ’s alone.

So the question, I think, becomes this: “as priests, what types of unmovable mountains would be in the context of our offering of prayer to the object of our faith?” In Matthew 5:23-24 we find this:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Let’s compare this to the passage we are reading in Mark, starting a bit into verse 24:

“…whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

True faith causes good works -SO- in this salvonic understanding:

forgiveness of our brother or our enemies is often times an insurmountable task and one that shows true regeneration.

Therefore, with faith based in what God has already done for us while we were yet sinners, forgiveness of others is what we are called to.

With that PapaG’ism in mind, do not forget that this verse is connected to Christ overturning tables for a second time on the Temple Mount and cursing the fig-tree as representative of Israel’s faithlessness, another seemingly insurmountable task.

As applicable and connective as I think these comments are, there is yet another often overlooked understanding which keeps Christ firmly in context, and not us.

Again, James Brooks mentions that Jesus may have been referencing “the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea,” the “latter being seen from the summit of the former.”

William Lane expands on this in his commentary on Mark, mentioning likewise that the,

Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives and it is appropriate to take the reference to “this mountain” quite literally. An allusion may be intended to Zech. 14:4. In the eschatological day described there the Mount of Olives is to be split in two, and when the Lord assumes his kingship “the whole land shall be turned into a plain” (Zech. 14:10). The prayer in question is then specifically a Passover prayer for God to establish his reign.

Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:

Jesus has acted out two parables of terrible impending judgment of unbelief—the withering of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple; now, in response to Peter’s remark, he turns to the vital component in the eschatological drama that is inexorably coming to pass, namely, faith in God. This Israel does not have, but the disciples can and must have faith if they are to participate as victors in the coming destruction of the enemy-occupied land which will split at the Mount of Olives when the terrible day comes that precedes the kingly reign of the Lord over the whole earth (so Zech. 14:1–11). Jesus urges his disciples to pray with the faith expressed in Isaiah 65:24 and participate with him in the new exodus, and so avoid the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the faithless land. But they must humbly seek forgiveness and harbor no resentment (v. 25), as Israel has not done in the presence of Jesus the Son, if they are to stand in the Father’s righteousness through this cataclysmic time.

[See these and more commentaries in the Appendix]

So like the parable of the faithful and wise servant (Luke 12:35-48), we must watch over this great gift of faith and its awesome responsibility by prayer to the object of our faith… asking for these mountains of faithlessness, self-centeredness, and our unforgiving hearts to be cleared daily by God’s word and our union with Him… always saying like John did, “come Lord Jesus, come!”




  • Boice, James Montgomery. Foundations of the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1986.
  • Bowman, Robert M. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2001.
  • Budziszewski, J. The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man. Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing, 2004.
  • Dewaay,Bob. The Emerging Church: Undefining Christianity. Saint Louise Park, Minnesota: Bob Dewaay, 2009.
  • Geisler, Norman, Thomas Howe. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook On Bible Difficulties. Wheaton, Illinoise: Victor Books, 1992.
  • Hall, David W., Peter A. Lillback, ed. A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2008.
  • Hanegraaff, Hank. Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
  • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1993.
  • Kelly, Douglas F. Systematic Theology: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity. Vol. 1. Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2008.
  • Kenyon, E.W. The Two Kinds of Faith: Faith’s Secret Revealed. Lynnwood, Washington: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, 1969.
  • Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark. Edited by F.F. Bruce. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 1974.
  • Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
  • Lewis, Gordon R., Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996.
  • MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007.
  • McConnell, D.R. A Different Gospel: Biblical and Historical Insights Into the Word of Faith Movement. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  • Oden, Thomas C. Systematic Theology: The Living God. Vol. 1. Peabody, Massachusettes: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
  • Strong, A.H. Systematic Theology. New York, New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1896.
  • Yungen, Ray. A Time of Departing. 2nd. ed. Silverton, Oregon: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006.

Post Script

I wanted to point out just a couple of after thoughts. The first part of the verse we read from (v. 20), there is an interesting event that is mentioned.

Something I know the Jewish mind would have surely known considering how well the pharisees knew (at least memorized) Scripture. in verse 20 we read this:

  • “Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

Now let’s read from Hosea 9:16, and then from Job 18:16, respectively.

Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
His roots dry up beneath,
and his branches wither above.

This miracle of Jesus cursing the fig-tree can be seen as one of the many instances Jesus showed Israel He was their Messiah through fulfilling of Old Testament prophecy.

Another quick thing I wish to point out is that many Bibles separate verse 25 from verses 20-24.

This shouldn’t be.

I think you can completely drop verse 26 and not include that at all, however, verses 20-25 should be looked at as a cohesive pericope.

Definition of Praxeology

Just so the reader knows how I understand this term: “right” theology into “right” action. The “Word Faith movement/theology,” “Liberation theology,” as well as “Emergent theology” distorts this interpretation. Here is a more in-depth definition:

PRAXIS AND ORTHOPRAXIS. `Praxis’ essentially means ‘action’. Traditionally, the concept refers to the application of theory or socially innovative human behaviour. Its long history begins with Aristotle but the concept achieved contemporary prominence through Marx, who used it in various ways but, most commonly, to mean revolutionary action through which the world Was changed. In theology it has gained currency through liberation theology.” Theology usually emphasizes orthodoxy, i.e., right belief or conceptual reflection on truth. Political theology balances this with an emphasis on action (praxis) and right action (orthopraxis). Gutierrez typically complains that ‘the church has for centuries devoted her attention to formulating truth and meanwhile did almost nothing to better the world’. It not only advocates action but questions whether knowledge can be detached; and it insists that truth can only be known through action. Knowing and doing are dialectically related, and right action becomes the criterion for truth. The danger is, as Miguez Bonino has observed, that theology is reduced to ethics, the vertical dimension equated with the horizontal and the concept built on Marxism. Positively, however, it can claim biblical roots. God communicates with his world, not through a conceptual frame of reference, but in creative activity; in John’s gospel knowing truth is contingent on doing it (Jn. 3:21).


Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, J.I. Packer, eds., New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1988), 527. 


(Commentaries on Mark 11:20-25)

There is good Scriptural connection that makes Mark 11:23-24 an eschatological verse. Of course rabbinical use of “moving mountains” was a phrase referring to seemingly impossible difficulties:

…But it also shows that we cannot pray in faith for anything that we like. In this matter, Jesus was “thinking God’s thoughts after him” and willing his father’s will. That sort of prayer, if asked in faith, will always be answered, for it is praying that God’s will may be done (as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane). We can only move the mountains that God wants removed, not those that we want moved. “Moving mountains” was a phrase used by the rabbis to describe overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties; we must not of course take it in the literal sense. If we pray in this way, we can give thanks for the result before we see it, for the answer is sure in the will and purpose of God.

There is one other condition for effectual prayer: we must freely forgive others, as God forgives us (25). If we do not, how could we pray “in Jesus’ name,” that is, in the way in which he would and did? This verse may indicate that Mark knew the Lord’s Prayer, though he does not record it in his gospel.

D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1997), 968.

Matthew Henry speaks to the miracle of faith, which rightfully understood, truly is one of the most miraculous of all:

Now this is to be applied, [1] To that faith of miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy love was not, 1 Co. 13:2. [2] It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. It justifies us (Rom. 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us, Mic. 7:19. It purifies the heart (Acts 15:9), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God, Zec. 4:7. It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan’s fiery darts are quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains, for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, the mountains were not only moved, but removed, Ps. 114:4-7.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), Mk 11:12.

Whenever I read Henry I have to say “Amen.” This faith is not only miraculously accomplished, but is imported to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, as Augustine rightly notes this continuous miracle:

Whether they are going to speak before a congregation or any other body, or to dictate something to be spoken before a congregation or read by others who are able and willing to do so, speakers must pray that God will place a good sermon on their lips. If Queen Esther, when about to plead before the king for the temporal salvation of her people, prayed that God would place a suitable speech on her lips [Esther 4:16], how much more important is it for those who work for people’s eternal salvation “by teaching God’s word” [1 Tim. 5:17] to pray to receive such a gift?

Douglas F. Kelley, Systematic Theology, Volume One: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2008), 54.

Many of these early thinkers referenced Isaiah 7:9 which basically says this: “If you don’t take your stand in faith, you won’t have a leg to stand on.” So here we are, mentioning some good interpretations of these verses, I believe that in context with the fig tree and some of Jesus’ other teachings, we can almost see that these verses tend to speak to the end-times, one of my favorite commentaries points this out:

The Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives and it is appropriate to take the reference to “this mountain” quite literally. An allusion may be intended to Zech. 14:4. In the eschatological day described there the Mount of Olives is to be split in two, and when the Lord assumes his kingship “the whole land shall be turned into a plain” (Zech. 14:10). The prayer in question is then specifically a Passover prayer for God to establish his reign. What is affirmed is God’s absolute readiness to respond to the resolute faith that prays (cf. Isa. 65:24). What distin­guishes the faith for which Jesus calls from that self-intoxication which reduces a man and his work to a fiasco is the discipline of prayer through faith. When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction. The assertion in verse 24 reiterates this assurance in more comprehensive and general terms. The man who bows his head before the hidden glory of God in the fulness of faith does so in the certainty that God can deal with every situation and any difficulty and that with him nothing is impossible (10:27).

William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 410.

Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:

Jesus has acted out two parables of terrible impending judgment of unbelief—the withering of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple; now, in response to Peter’s remark, he turns to the vital component in the eschatological drama that is inexorably coming to pass, namely, faith in God. This Israel does not have, but the disciples can and must have faith if they are to participate as victors in the coming destruction of the enemy-occupied land which will split at the Mount of Olives when the terrible day comes that precedes the kingly reign of the Lord over the whole earth (so Zech. 14:1–11). Jesus urges his disciples to pray with the faith expressed in Isaiah 65:24 and participate with him in the new exodus, and so avoid the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the faithless land. But they must humbly seek forgiveness and harbor no resentment (v. 25), as Israel has not done in the presence of Jesus the Son, if they are to stand in the Father’s righteousness through this cataclysmic time.

Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (electronic ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), Mk 11:20.

Another commentator mentions this eschatological allusion:

…Jesus was speaking generally, but there may be some allusion to the Mount of Olives (11:1) and the Dead Sea. On a clear day the latter can be seen from the summit of the former. Alternately, the allusion may be to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete (cf. John 4:19–24).

James A. Brooks, vol. 23, Mark (electronic ed.; Logos Library System; The New American Commentary Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 183.

And this great working through the verses by a favored theologian of mine:

11:21 The Fig Tree Which You Cursed Has Withered

  • ADMONITION FOR THOSE PREPARING TO BE BAPTIZED. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: You are now being joined with the holy vine.’ If, then, you abide in the vine, you grow into a fruitful branch, but if you do not so abide, you will be burnt in the fire. Let us therefore bring forth worthy fruit. For let it not come about that it should happen to us what happened to the barren fig tree in the Gospel.’ Let not Jesus come in these days and utter the same curse upon the fruitless. But instead may all of you say, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.”

11:23 Whoever Does Not Doubt in His Heart but Believes

  • THE POWER OF PRAYER. CHRYSOSTOM: Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch’s power…. I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit,’ the offspring of a soul converted—this is the prayer which mounts to heaven…. The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good. I speak not of the prayer of the lips, but of the prayer that ascends from the inmost recesses of the heart.

11:24 Believe That. You Will Receive It and You Will

  • FULL CONFIDENCE. JOHN CASSIAN: While we are praying, there should be no hesitation that would intervene or break down the confidence of our petition by any shadow of despair. We know that by pouring forth our prayer we are obtaining already what we are asking for. We have no doubt that our prayers have effectually reached God.’ For to that degree that one believes that he is regarded by God, and that God can grant it, just so far will one be heard and obtain an answer

11:23 It Will Be Done for Him

  • DIVINE GIVING AND HUMAN WILLING. AUGUSTINE: Note that Jesus said “for him,” not “for me,” and not “for the Father.” Yet it is certain that no human being does such a thing without God’s gift and workings. Mark well that even if no actual instances of perfect righteousness may be found among humans, that does not rule out perfect righteousness as if it were formally impossible. For it might have been realized if only sufficient responsive willing had been applied, enough to suffice for so great a deed.

Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II, Mark (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press,1998), 162-163.

My Father’s Eulogy (Reworked)

(My father passed Oct., 2008; The below was originally posted Feb., 2009, reworked for my site June 2015)

See also my “Sermon” ~ Mark 11:20-25, “Moving Mountains: Faith in Faith” 

(To skip the intro and go directly to the eulogy, click “here“)

An Introduction to My Eulogy

Many years ago, my father was the road manager for a short time for Wilson Pickett and then was involved with Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels. Before this time period of my father getting into all aspects of the music industry (drugs, traveling, and the like), I was born in 1970. One-year later my mother and father were divorced. It was the seventies, so the hippie/vagabond lifestyle was chic and my mom traveled a bit, finally settling down in Detroit [proper], married to a wonderful man. My father settled down in North Hollywood California, the other side of the country.

In 1976, my father was saved through the ministry of Ma Bean, a skinny little charismatic woman who had a ministry in Southern California. It was part of the early “Jesus Movement,” where hippies were giving up their drug highs for the “high of Holy Spirit.” After my dad was born again, he started to contact us in order to be involved in his son’s [my] life. He would travel once-and-a-while to Detroit to visit with his family and also see me. In 1982, one of my mom’s aunts who lived in California was sick, so my mom went to visit. During this visit, my dad was key in bringing my mom to the Lord. After her return to Detroit my mom divorced her current husband [a very tough time for me, any child] and we moved to California where she was remarried to my father in a charismatic Catholic church service.

We attended Church on the Way (Jack Hayford’s church [not an “invitation” or endorsement of Hayford]), visited an almost Pentecostal Catholic church when there was a Charismatic service, and TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) was on 24/7 in the home. While the A-Team was the discussion point at school, any programming other than TBN was “devilish.” (I am sure some can relate.)

Years later, my mother and father were would find themselves divorced again. I attribute this to a few factors. First, mainly due to no real doctrine being present in their life, just emotional Christianity. Their subjective wills were not firmly based in the immovable will of the revealed God of Scripture. This is not to say they were-not-or-did-not have a real conversion moment… I did at thirteen. But replacing the sound doctrine of the Cross with “kingdom now/word faith” theology stretches the boundaries of Christ’s salvonic work (1 Samuel 16:7). Secondly… my mother is a hippy [vagabond] at heart — unfaithful to her Lord and her husband. This isn’t ideal, but she i-s my mom. Thirdly, my father became almost unbearable in his later years. You hear about person’s becoming “grumpy” later in life… this was my dad. He should have brought these issues confidently into God’s throne room and asked for a softer heart rather than by relying on his own merits/faith for miracles to be done in his life.

Side-note: Men struggle primarily with two things… that is, anger issues [temper], and/or lust, fidelity, pornography. These are best fought with God on your side… in case you were wondering… because: “‘No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants, and their righteousness is from Me.’ This is the Lord’s declaration.” (Isaiah 54:17) I inherited my father’s temper and it took a Godly wife and a group of Godly men and the Holy Spirit’s daily intervening to work through this. My real heritage is God’s loving patience and GREAT mercy.

Some time after my parents divorced this second time, I remember my dad having just enough to pay another month of his mortgage… or… paying TBN during one of their faith marathons.

During this particular drive, TBN had a fire pit built in back of their California studio and promised that no matter what a person’s financial need and situation was, that they could receive 10-times the amount given — and very possibly more. So my dad took his last $2,000 and sent it in. Obviously he lost the house, and ultimately his life (I will explain further shortly).

It is this type of thinking that has devastated my family as well as taking the life of my father. It is not just another form of Christianity, it is a killer form if taken to its logical end.

An additional point. This type of thinking is VERY legalistic. You will often hear about some Baptists practicing strict legalism over behavior. However, in the “Health and Wealth Gospel,” often time you HAVE to show the evidence of tongues in order to to show that you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Spirit in you. This is legalism that changes even Jesus’ promise to us (John 14:15-31).

In this set of verses He [the Holy Spirit] is called Truth v. 16-17):

  • And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

This is important because for all the evidences we give for the faith, we KNOW it to be true because of the inner witness of the Spirit. And “knowing” truth [Truth] is important when confronting a culture with God’s attributes that not only include love, but equally: justice, hatred of sin, and even judgement. Without truth [Truth], a Christian does not KNOW God, cannot express the Truth in love or in standing against evil. True evil.

It interferes with what Scripture is meant for as well:

  • All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

What a daunting rejection of God’s grace and plan for His church/people. Pride comes before a fall, and this is hubris on steroids!

Which is why I must participate in such a site and post articles like this, if only to reach one soul with the true freedom found in a proper understanding of Law and Grace.

There is freedom for those who take up their cross, in this case, it is a cross of understanding what Jesus died for… it wasn’t for my father’s mortgage.

Jesus died for something more valuable than that, more valuable than all the money racked in by TBN…. He died for your and my soul.

My father was sent home to “live” with my wife and myself with a diagnosis of two-months to live. On October 25th I was reading Scripture to my father when his breathing started getting worse than it already was. I stopped reading from the Word and started to fluff the pillows and blankets surrounding my father. He managed to gasp “help” and shortly thereafter was strong enough to cry a bit…

(as I did as well)

…while telling him that I loved him and wiping the drool from his mouth and the sweat from his brow. I could not dial 911 or call for help because my father was sent home with us for this reason… to pass as comfortably as possible.

All I could do is watch my father suffocated to death.

He looked scared.

Not because he lacked faith in God, but because the natural tendency of mankind is to live. He was also coming to the understanding that the doctors were correct and his theology flawed… realizing your life is slipping away and having so many open ends in it can be daunting. Even terrifying, to say the least.

You see, his lungs were full of cancer due to his colon cancer.

This cancerous barrage spreading through his body was the result of him feeling sick but not going to the doctor to get checked up. Rather, he would claim his wellness by faith.

F-i-n-a-l-l-y, he was so sick he HAD TO go to the doctors for a look at what was wrong.

he was diagnosed with colon cancer and it was recommended he be operated on immediately. He pushed off the operation a few times, canceling dates of the operation in order to claim his healing by faith.

I will never (never) forget this next visit I drove him to at his primary physician’s office. His doctor was at her wits end. When she walked out of the examination room, I told my dad that if he did not get the operation that I was through with helping him. He yelled at me this favorite saying of word-faith teachers,


This is important and should not be lost on the audience. I am his son telling him to follow his doctor’s suggestion and quit canceling his operation dates… and I am Satan according to his theology.

He finally acquiesced and got the operation.

The operation proved successful, you could see a marked improvement in even how he looked.

I went with him to his follow-up appointment with his regular, primary care doctor. [Turned out to be his only.]

She showed amazement — as did I upon finding out the information — that he didn’t go to his scheduled meeting[s] with the specialist (the doctor that did the operation).

My father ended up rejecting any form of recommended chemotherapy (his doctor even explaining a new pill form that wasn’t as invasive as radiation therapy).

The doctor was worried that the cancer had spread and they wanted to kill as much of the cancer as they could thus extending my father’s life. My father rejected this and refused to even see his regular doctor. AGAIN, claiming his well-being through faith.

  • You see, this type of thinking is ingrained in the word-faith movement that was popularized by TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and taken from the writings of Kenneth Hagin and later Kenneth Copeland. My father had just about every Hagin booklet known to man.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago (11-3-08) and my father was being told that he had cancer all over his body. Especially in his lungs, BECAUSE he had a) initially waited too long allowing the cancer to perforate the wall of his colon… and his later b) refusing and post-treatment allowing the cancer to spread quickly.

I was present in the hospital when it took TWO doctors to get the point across that there was nothing more they could do.

I watched as my father begged them for chemotherapy to help extend his life.

Obviously, it was too late for that. And they forcefully explained that.

It was sad to see him put in a corner of the one-for-one odds of our death. It was a bit tougher in his case because it was hastened by his own actions and bad theology.

It did not take long for my dad to revert to saying that Satan was a liar and that he was going to be healed.

It is regrettable that many at this church [my father’s church] commented positively upon reflection of my father’s rebuking of Satan and his claiming his healing by faith.

I wonder if his fellow church members knew what he was really saying? It is this:

He was i) denying his sickness in the hope that his ii) positive confession would express iii) enough faith to iv) receive his healing that he believes is v) promised to him via the atonement. His sickness/faith… and thus his “atonement” are intimately tied up with his outcome.

  • atonement: the reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus.

A Quick Break

Here are some audio files from some leaders in the Word-Faith Movement.

True Christians do not get Sick:

Sickness is Demonic:

Faith is a force & James 4 is stupid:

Continuing My Introduction

And this is the crux of the matter which I will explain more in the actual eulogy I did at my dad’s service.

After my presentation (again, below), one woman came up to me after and said she would love to have seen my father and I heatedly discuss the issue of healing in the atonement.

I did not know what to say.

I wanted to say that what she did not realize was that my position had been proven in my father’s death. There was no need for an argument, death was unfortunately on my side of the argument.

Obviously, there will be a time when all of creation, hence mankind, will be in perfect harmony again as the creation God intended… anyone listening to my presentation thoughtfully would realize such when I read from Romans chapter 8 from two different versions. However, I fear that not too many listened with a sharp ear.

So now I am anguished a bit at my dad’s last attempt to shed a tear right before he took his last breath.

Was it because he faltered in his faith and was frightened that he had been wrong all these years due to his non-healing?

Was it because he had unfinished business with loved ones… namely his son?

Did all the stuff he accumulated in his apartment supplant what he really needed, a family, his grandsons, daughter-in-law?(He drove for years past our condominium three-or-four times a week going to his church without stopping in once.)

W-h-a-t-e-v-e-r his reasoning was, I couldn’t do anything but cry and tell him I loved him.

(like I am now)

And these folks at his church ~ as wonderful as they are and were to him ~ are soo caught up in their emotional stances of Scripture that a healthy-well-balanced understanding of scripture is too much to ask for.

The charismatic and Pentecostal tradition has a lot to answer for in the proverbial “By-and-By.” Mind you, while I truly believe some of these people at my dad’s church are saved and are going to heaven, they are destroying lives of people around them. They just don’t see it.

Here I am adding a caveat.

If people follow the Word-Faith theology to its logical conclusion, then the person may not in fact be saved at all. My father rejected much of the following… I know because we argued this stuff for years. Some dangerous views that could lead some to eternal separation from their Creator are:

Listen to more actual audio of these cultists preaching a twisted faith, HERE, stuff like:

  • God the Father has a body;
  • Trinity not important;
  • Adam flew to the moon;
  • men become gods;
  • men are gods

I could go on but the point is made.

Just like the early movement in the Corinthian church that had a similar emotional outburst and rejected a healthy-well-balanced theology that Paul spoke to in 1 Corinthian 14:23. Thus, Paul would have rebuked gracefully and doctrinally my dad’s church.

I think my eulogy, then, is fitting for what I wanted to express… what I needed to express.

This eulogy I entitled:

O’ Sweet Exchange

I love the smell of Scripture…

It even smells like grace…

In fact, we have a smell as well… did you know that?

2 Corinthians 2:15 says that because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.

We are truly a new creation, even down to our aroma!

And I have seen Pastor Andre after he has worked on one of his tanks, so I am sure this substitution of aroma wrought by Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary is much appreciated by him and his congregation.

  • [So the reader knows, the pastor of my dad’s church works in the movie “prop” industry and has many of real military equipment one has seen in the classic war movies, from Saving Private Ryan to Heartbreak Ridge.]

Many of you probably know by now that I am Ron’s son. I will always be his boy, but am nonetheless a man with my own family.

And the very recent passing of my father got me thinking about our lives and the promises we have in Scripture in regards to our eternal security.

Now let me confess that there is no “holy theology.”Man is corrupt from the inside out and we tend to corrupt most things we touch, even the plain and simple promises of the Word. All one has to do is study church history or read the letters to the churches to get a good grasp at how quickly we can goof things up.

One example is found in Galatians 1:6 where the apostle Paul admonishes the church in Galatia when he says: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” Another version reads, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” Yet another version says the apostle was amazed. Why amazed? Paul was writing the Galatians in A.D. 49, a church he founded on his first missionary journey only three years earlier.

You see, we tend to corrupt things quickly and efficiently, and it takes the Holy Spirit daily infecting our lives through the Word of God and the body of Christ to keep us focused on the goal that Paul says we are to strive for.

My father had a clear understanding of this goal and I have no doubt he is present with the Lord because he is definitely absent from his body.

My goal here then is not to mourn his gain, that would be futile. My goal is to bring a deeper understanding to something he struggled with here that may offer some clarity in your own walk.

You see, we do not see as clearly as my father now does for he has lived on both sides of 1 Corinthians 13:12, which the Message translates thus:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

My father see’s as he was once seen.

He F-U-L-L-Y realizes the cost for his soul that Christ suffered on the Cross for, which we still only dimly see.

Isaiah speaks to this in chapter 53:4-5:

“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

Matthew Henry (my Dad’s favorite Commentary) says of Isaiah 53 that,

Sin is not only a crime, for which we were condemned to die and which Christ purchased for us the pardon of, but it is a disease, which tends directly to the death of our souls and which Christ provided for the cure of. By his stripes (that is, the sufferings he underwent) he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls, and to put our souls in a good state of health, that they may be fit to serve God and prepared to enjoy him.

Bible scholars John Walvoord and Roy Zuck comment that Isaiah here “refers to illnesses of the soul. His healing many people’s physical illnesses (though not all of them) in His earthly ministry anticipated His greater work on the Cross. Though He does heal physical ailments today (though not all of them) His greater work is healing souls, giving salvation from sin.” 1 Peter 2:24 & 25 sheds some light on this promise:

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Walvoord and Zuck make mention that this verse “does not refer to physical healing for the verb’s past tense indicates completed action, the “healing” is an accomplished fact. The reference is to salvation. Christ’s suffering and death accomplished ‘healing,’ the salvation of every individual who trusts Him as his Savior.” They continue:

1. The apostle Paul couldn’t heal Timothy’s stomach problem (1 Tim. 5:23);
2. nor could he heal Trophimus trof-i-mus at Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20)
3. or Epaphroditus ee-paf-ro-DAI-tuhs (Phil. 2:25–27).
4. Paul spoke of “a bodily illness” he had (Gal. 4:13–15).
5. He also suffered a “thorn in the flesh” which God allowed him to retain (2 Cor. 12:7–9).
6. God certainly allowed Job to go through a time of physical suffering (Job 1–2).

In none of these cases is it stated that the sickness was caused by sin or unbelief. Nor did Paul or any of the others act as if they thought their healing was guaranteed in the atonement. They accepted their situations and trusted in God’s grace for sustenance.

It must be noted as well that on two occasions Jesus said that sickness could be for the glory of God (John 9:3; 11:4).

Other Scriptures as well reveal that our physical bodies are continuously running down and suffering various ailments. Our present bodies are said to be perishable and weak (1 Cor. 15:42–44). Paul said “our outer man is decaying” (2 Cor. 4:16). Death and disease will be a part of the human condition until that time when we receive resurrection bodies that are immune to such frailties (1 Cor. 15:51–55).

Going back though to Isaiah 53, let us suppose that these verses did teach the panacea or elixir of physical healing some claim it does. This interpretation carries an unwelcome corollary. That is… If healing is in the atonement and is accessed by faith, then those who die due to lack of faith must remain in their sins. They die without hope. Why? Because if both healing and salvation are included in this passage, they must be accessed in the same way. And if one does not have enough faith to make oneself well, it follows that he cannot have enough faith to be saved.

This logical conclusion of faith teachers I reject of course, but I reject it based on Scripture telling us in Romans 8:22-25 that:

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

The Message Bible paraphrases these verses thus:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

This healthy-well-balanced understanding of Scripture and the atonement led famous hymnist Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960) to pen this song about Isaiah 53:

Verse 1
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He bore our sins in His body on the tree;
For our guilt He gave us peace,
From our bondage gave release,
And with His stripes,
And with His stripes,
And with His stripes our souls are healed.

Verse 2
He was numbered among transgressors,
We did esteem Him forsaken by His God;
As our sacrifice He died,
That the law be satisfied,
And all our sin,
And all our sin,
And all our sin was laid on Him.

Verse 3
We had wandered, we all had wandered
Far from the fold of the Shepherd of the sheep;
But He sought us where we were,
On the mountains bleak and bare,
And brought us home,
And brought us home,
And brought us safely home to God.

Verse 4
Who can number His generation?
Who shall declare all the triumphs of His Cross?
Millions, dead, now live again,
Myriads follow in His train!
Victorious Lord,
Victorious Lord,
Victorious Lord and coming King!

D.A. Carson concludes that the meaning of Isaiah 53 “grows in clarity through these verses: the pain Christ is bearing in verse 4 is ours; it is the punishment of sin in verse 5a; it is the price of salvation in 5b.” Warren Wiersp takes notice that to say there is “healing in the Atonement,” and that every believer has the “right” to claim it, is to misinterpret Scripture. He goes on to say of 1st Peter 2:24 that “God is not obligated to heal all sicknesses. He is obligated, however, to save all sinners who call on Him.” It is this obligation of salvation of the man and healing of the soul that my father did take God up on, I hope you will as well.

End of “O’ Sweet Exchange”

At the end of others talking about my father, I had a recording of my father which he apparently recorded on accident during one of his church services on his camcorder. With some help from Pastor Russ from my church the two video files were joined into one audio file. This posthumous find is a very special find and was equally so at the end of the service… enjoy:

The Word-Faith Movement Discussed by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

This is via THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)

This is the description by The Mind Renewed under the video [to be clear, I do not recommend as a whole, “The Mind ‘Renewed,'” as their views of conspiracies and history enslave good thinking.]:

We are joined by Robert M. Bowman Jnr., Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research, for an in-depth interview on the history and teachings of the Word-Faith (or Word of Faith) Movement within Christianity. Born out of the “faith-cure” teachings of the late 19th & early 20th Centuries, and developed and popularised in recent decades by flamboyant evangelists and preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland, Word-Faith teaching now reaches the homes of millions through TV broadcasts around the globe. Promising health and wealth in the name of Christ, and assuring its followers that they have delegated spiritual power from God literally to speak miracles into their own lives, this unbiblical distortion of Christianity sets unrealistic expectations, and often leads to disappointment, and sometimes even to rejection of Christ.

Growing Dangers in the Positive Confession Faith Teachings (1980)

This is via THE WORD on The Word of Faith

…Since that time the doctrines of the born-again Jesus and of Christians being little gods have evolved from the original positive confession teachings. Christians are now being told that Jesus Christ not only needed to die on the cross for their sins but also suffered in hell for them, and then needed to be born again in order to become their Savior! People have been misled into believing that men are little gods since they were made in the image and likeness of God and are to take dominion over the earth because of their godhood.

It is an unchanging law that heresy begets heresy and error begets error when men depart from the objective authority of the Scripture.

This does not at all necessarily mean that individuals who fall into these errors are unbelievers. It need only mean that they are ignorant or sincerely mistaken. But those who refuse to repent of their heresies when shown the error of their ways must be classified as false teachers in the biblical sense…

…read more…