Shall We Write Off Kenneth E. Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E. W. Kenyon? Part 1 (of 12 Parts)
by Karl Kemp 9/24/2013 / Bible Studies
All Bible quotations were taken from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted. I split the original paper into several parts and put these parts into the proper format so I could put them on several Christian article sites. These sites do not permit footnotes, bold, underlining, italics, long dashes, small caps, etc. Quite often I will make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make them more obvious. All of my papers that I mention as references for further study in this paper can be found on my internet site (karlkempteachingministries.com or Google to Karl Kemp Teaching).
I'll include the Contents section that I had in the original paper for your information:
1. Introduction..... 3
2. Some Excerpts from "Occult Invasion: The Subtle Invasion of the World and Church" by Dave Hunt. This section also includes some excerpts from "The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days" by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, and many of my comments. This section deals extensively with Hunt's accusations that Hagin was teaching occult faith..... 6
3. I read (with some skimming) several of Hagin's books to see how much of his teaching about faith could fit in the category of occult faith instead of Bible faith. We will discuss the results of this study here. This section also includes a brief discussion of my involvement with Kenneth E. Hagin's ministry and some of my Christian background..... 19
4. I'll include several excerpts from "Contending for the Faith," which is chapter 3 of Dave Hunt's book, "Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity" (Harvest House Publishers, 1987)..... 43
5. Some Excerpts from Dave Hunt's "Occult Invasion" where He Calls Kenneth Hagin a False Prophet, etc., and seems to write him off..... 44
6. On pages 120, 122, and 494 of "Occult Invasion" Hunt refers to Hagin's booklet titled "Having Faith in Your Faith." This is a very important reference that we must discuss..... 48
7. Now we will discuss the article, "The Law of Faith," that is included in the November, 1974 issue of "The Word of Faith" by Kenneth E. Hagin Evangelistic Ass'n. Hunt referred to this article on page 64 of "Beyond Seduction," for one place..... 50
8. I'll quote a key sentence from page 119 of Hunt's "Occult Invasion" and then a similar sentence from page 64 of "Beyond Seduction." He backs up both sentences by referring to pages 62 and 173-176 of Kenyon's "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" (Kenyon, 1945, 202 pages). Then we will discuss these references..... 53
9. I'll include another brief excerpt from page 64 of Hunt's "Beyond Seduction"; this excerpt is important in that it demonstrates that even though Kenyon didn't emphasize the point (his entire emphasis was to teach, encourage, and exhort Christians to walk in the full salvation provided for them in Christ Jesus), he believed that non-Christians can develop their spirits to bring about miraculous results..... 57
10. Hunt has another important quotation from Hagin on pages 344 of "Occult Invasion", under the heading "Ye Shall Be as Gods," in the chapter "Playing God: The Lust for Power." The quotation is from Hagin's 63 page book, "Zoe: The God Kind of Life" (Rhema Bible Church, first printed 1981 and still in print now, July 2013, pages 35, 36) ..... 60
11. A few pages back I briefly quoted from Kenyon's "The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption" to demonstrate that Kenyon's view of Adam before the fall was far too high and his view of the Lord Jesus was too low. (However, as I have mentioned, sometimes Kenyon presented an orthodox view of God the Son and the Trinity.) Here I'm going to include some excerpts from Kenyon's "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" (1945) to demonstrate that Kenyon's view of born-again Christians is far too high in comparison with God. For one thing, Kenyon probably was the source for Hagin's infrequent similar statements. As I mentioned, these two books by Kenyon are two of the primary places where he taught that Jesus died spiritually, took on the nature of the devil, etc..... 65
12. "Mind, Might, and Mastery: Human Potential in Metaphysical Religion and E. W. Kenyon," A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Liberty University Graduate School of Religion in Candidacy for the Master of Arts in Christian Thought (Apologetics), by Kevin Scott Smith, 1995..... 67
13. "E. W. Kenyon and the Postbellum [which means after the Civil War] Pursuit of Peace, Power, and Plenty" by Dale H. Simmons (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1997, 351 pages)..... 68
14. "E. W. Kenyon and His Message on Faith: the True Story" by Joe McIntyre (Charisma House, 1997, 362 pages)..... 72
15. "The Word-Faith Controversy" by Robert M. Bowman Jr. (Baker Books, 2001)..... 86
16. "Christianity in Crisis" by Hank Hanegraaff (Harvest House Publishers, 1993)..... 89
17. I'll quote a few sentences from Occult Invasion" by Dave Hunt from the Chapter on " 'Christian' Psychology" under the heading "Occultism and Selfism"..... 93
Some Key Passages of Scripture and Key Topics that are discussed in this paper:
Mark 5:34..... 33; Mark 11:22-24..... 4, 10, 16, 20, 21, 28, 29, 31, 32, 36, 42, 49, 51, 62, 88
On Jesus dying spiritually..... 3, 4, 15, 16, 27, 38, 42, 45, 58, 59, 68, 70, 71, 75-86
The meaning of "the Spirit" and "the flesh"..... 10-12
Once Saved, Always Saved? ..... 45, 46
New dating method for the Shroud of Turin..... 91, 92
Evidence that Jesus was nailed through the palms of His hands..... 92, 93
Abbreviations: cf. = compare; e.g. = for example
1. Introduction. Many have written off Kenneth E. Hagin, including Dave Hunt, based on what Hunt says in his books. And many have written off Hunt. I don't believe we should write off either one of these brothers. After spending a lot of time working on this paper, I decided I needed to spend more time learning about E. W. Kenyon and what he taught, and I changed the title of this paper from "Shall We Write off Kenneth E. Hagin? Dave Hunt?" to include "How About E. W. Kenyon?" It is clear that Hagin was influenced by Kenyon. I had read several of Kenyon's books and a few books that dealt with him quite a bit, but I realized that I didn't know enough about him to understand where he was coming from. I'm still not an expert on Kenyon, but now I know quite a bit more about him and what he taught.
I spent a few weeks finding and reading some more books that dealt with Kenyon. Three of the books added quite a bit to my understanding, the books by Joe McIntyre, by Dale Simmons, and by Robert Bowman, especially the first two books. (All three books are discussed in this paper.) As I make clear in this paper (also see my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?"), I am very concerned about some of the things that Kenyon taught, but I don't believe the Lord Jesus has written off Kenyon either. The Lord Jesus (with God the Father) is the only One with the authority to write off and reject any person, and it is clear that He doesn't appreciate our passing wrong judgments for Him (cf., e.g., Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 4:1-5; Matt. 7:1-5). All three brothers are now deceased, but their extensive work and influence lives on, which makes this paper quite relevant for our day.
I agree with Hunt that it was a serious error for Hagin to begin to teach that Jesus died spiritually ((I had a footnote: In the process of writing this paper, I realized that we must define what we mean by Jesus dying spiritually. All some Christians mean by that terminology is that Jesus was separated from God the Father in His atoning death. I agree that He was, in some ways, separated from God the Father, for the first and only times throughout all eternity, through bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties. However, for Kenyon and those who follow him, spiritual death included the ideas of Jesus taking on the nature of the devil, which resulted in the need for Him to be justified and born again (like we are), and the idea that that a big part of His atoning work was accomplished when He was tormented in hell for three days after He died on the cross.)), even if he didn't emphasize that teaching. (I don't believe I have ever heard Hagin teach that, and, to the best of my knowledge, it is rare that it appears in his writings.) It is clear, I believe, that Hagin picked up that error from Kenyon. But I don't agree with Hunt that Hagin had an occult view of faith. (I'll define what Hunt means by an occult view of faith as we continue.) Hagin made a few statements over the years that would fit an occult view of faith, but, based on what I have observed, read, and heard, Hagin taught and lived in line with a Bible faith that was solidly centered in God (the God of the Bible).
Our faith must be centered in God and His Word; He answers prayer; we look to Him for all things; we thank Him for all the things we receive; He saves; He heals; we make it a top priority to live (including what we pray) in the center of His will (as defined by His Word), by His grace; we don't do anything on our own, apart from Him (Jesus is the vine; we are the branches), or for our glory; we understand, for example, that if we command a mountain that needs to be moved to move in (by the authority of) the name of Jesus (cf. Mark 11:23), God is the One who moves the mountain (one way, or another), not our (creative) faith, or our force of faith. Yes, our command to the mountain (before God) in faith is effective, but only by the authority and power and direct involvement of God, and in the will of God; we have been created and saved for His glory. God is directly involved with every detail of our lives and ministries.
The authority we have in the name of Jesus to move mountains, to resist demons and cast them out, etc., which God has given to us, is effective only because God (who always is directly involved) has the power to back up this authority. If an evil angel (or all the evil angels), for example, says I am going to keep that mountain from moving, God has the power to move that angel (or angels) and that mountain. We will deal with this topic in some detail in this paper, always looking for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, and see my "A Paper on Faith" on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching).
I agree with those who have written off Hunt that sometimes he was too quick to write off other Christians (including Hagin), which is a serious problem, but I believe he was a sincere, Bible-centered Christian, who was devoted to God and His truth and that we need to hear a big part of what Hunt said on many topics, very much including faith. He had much insight into serious problems that we Christians must deal with.
I desire to be a peacemaker, and I want to be fair to Kenneth Hagin, Dave Hunt, and E. W. Kenyon. I pray that this paper will to prove to be a blessing to those who have great respect for Hagin's ministry and for those who have written him off; for those who have a great respect for Hunt's ministry and for those who have written him off; so too for Kenyon. My goal for this paper is not to win an argument, but to please God and be a blessing to His people. One primary goal for this paper is that any readers who are misunderstanding any of the Bible verses, or topics, that are discussed will see where they are missing the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches and make the necessary corrections. How precious is the truth! It is a great blessing to be able to make any necessary corrections NOW, before we stand before God, and WE WILL STAND BEFORE HIM.
One goal for this paper is to try to demonstrate that Kenneth Hagin did not teach an occult view of faith. He occasionally taught things that were wrong over the years (especially the very wrong idea that Jesus died spiritually, which he learned from E. W. Kenyon), but as far as I can see those wrong ideas (many of which he picked up from Kenyon) always (or almost always) remained secondary additions to his teaching. They were not foundational to his teaching on faith. (For Kenyon some of the wrong ideas were foundational; they were part of the foundation on which he built his presentation of the gospel, his version of the gospel that he considered to be a great improvement over the more standard presentations of the gospel.)
In my opinion, if Hagin's ministry was to be likened to a building with many floors, his wrong ideas could be likened to a several rooms (or maybe a floor) you should avoid in that building. Most ministers have taught things that were not right, but it is very hard for most of us to think that we could have anything wrong. It's amazing that most ministers and the groups they are associated with think that they happen to have everything (or at least almost everything) right. That attitude (which goes along with pride) makes it difficult to receive correction.
Another goal I have for this paper, which in some ways is more important than trying to demonstrate that Hagin did not teach an occult view of faith, is to help Christians understand what occult faith is and how they can, and must, avoid it (whether Kenyon or Hagin taught it, or didn't teach it). It is rather easy to miss the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, and the enemy of our souls works diligently to "help" us miss the balanced truth. WE MUST MAKE THE BALANCED TRUTH OF WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES A TOP PRIORITY!
It is beyond the scope of this paper for me to comment much on faith teachers other than Hagin and Kenyon. It seems that Kenyon, although he could clearly see that salvation was not available through metaphysical religions (including New Thought, Christian Science, Unity Church, etc.), he was influenced by them to some extent. Even though he taught that they were false religions, Kenyon was impressed with the fact that they were getting results in areas like healing.
How much Kenyon was influenced by metaphysical religions is controversial and a difficult question to try to answer. After doing the research for this paper, I believe I can say that D. R. McConnell, in his influential book, "A Different Gospel" [Hendricksen, 1988], overstated how much Kenyon was influenced by the metaphysical religions. (I believe the three books by Joe McIntyre, Dale Simmons, and Robert Bowman that are discussed in this paper suffice to demonstrate this point. They all agree, by the way, that Kenyon was influenced to some extent by metaphysical religions.)
I am not making an attempt in this paper to try to determine how much Kenyon's thinking was influenced by these metaphysical religions, or even to try to prove that his thinking was influenced by them at all. For me, the really important thing is to show that Kenyon's teaching includes quite a bit of error, regardless of where he picked up the errors. I am confident that he was trying to be faithful to God and the Bible. Much, if not most, of Kenyon's writings could be helpful for Christians who are grounded in the basics of Christianity, but I cannot recommend his writings because of the substantial numbers of places where he (from my point of view) misinterprets the Bible. Some of the errors are quite significant (especially what Kenyon taught about the atoning death of Jesus and His dying spiritually, taking on the nature of the devil, etc.) and, as I mentioned, many of his errors seem to be foundational to what Kenyon thought was a new and improved presentation of the gospel that would revolutionize the Christian church if accepted.
2. Some Excerpts from "Occult Invasion: The Subtle Invasion of the World and Church" by Dave Hunt (Harvest House Publishers, 1998). I'll also include excerpts from "The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days" by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon here, and many of my comments. This section deals extensively with Hunt's accusations that Hagin was teaching occult faith. I'll list the chapter titles included in this 647 page book: 1) Why This Book? 2) Evolution and Its Role. 3) What Is the Occult? 4) The Death of Materialism. 5) Remote Viewing. 6) A Dark and a Light Side? 7) Naturalism or Supernaturalism? 8) Native, Indigenous, and Nature Religion. 9) Spirit Communication and Possession. 10) Drugs, Imagination, and the Occult. 11) Ecology, Shamanism, Science, and Christianity. 12) The Influence of Eastern Mysticism. 13) New Respectability in a New Age. 14) Holistic Medicine. 15) Twelve Steps with "God As You Conceive Him." 16) The Seduction of Youth. 17) Playing God. The Lust for Power. 18) What about UFOs, ETT's, and Near-Death Experiences. 19) Apparitions of Angels, Ghosts, and Mary. 20) Occultism and the Roman Catholic Church. 21) Psychology and the Occult. 22) 'Christian' Psychology. 23) Charismatic/Evangelical Occultism. 24) "Spiritual Warfare" and Revival. 25) A.D. 2000: Millennial Madness. 26) The Coming World Religion.
I have two primary reasons for wanting to discuss this book. For one thing, Dave Hunt (who died in 2013) has taken the time to research many topics that most Christians know little about, things that are quite relevant to us evangelicals here at the end of this age. For one thing, you can learn a lot about how the occult has invaded the world, much of the Christian church, and to some extent the evangelical church, and how it is spreading in our day. Although Hunt wasn't always correct or balanced in his criticism of the faith movement, much that he said was correct and needs to be heeded.
I have learned a lot from Hunt's books, including the books, "The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days" co-written with T. A. McMahon (Harvest House Publishers, 1985) and "Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity" (Harvest House Publishers, 1987). All three books are out of print, but a facsimile version is available from Amazon.com for "Occult Invasion" and a large number of used copies of the other two books are available at a reasonable price at Amazon.com.
A second reason I wanted to discuss "Occult Invasion" (and the other two books) is to demonstrate that sometimes Hunt is too quick to write off evangelical ministers because he finds a problem(s) (sometimes a very real problem(s)) in what they teach. All three books are packed with important information, but I don't recommend anyone read the books who will be quick to accept the author's judgments regarding other ministries. Errors in what a minister teaches should be pointed out (that's important; we need the truth!), but we need to go very slow about writing off ministers. If we don't use some restraint, we may have to write off everybody, including Hunt.
I am going to use what Dave Hunt (and the coauthor of one of the other books) says about Kenneth E. Hagin, who was a key leader in the faith movement, to illustrate this important point. I have followed Hagin's ministry quite a bit, starting in the spring of 1966, and I believe we need to hear most of what he taught. How desperately we need the balanced truth, especially the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. We will never find, or live, the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches if we don't humble ourselves before Him and His Word, and we need to humble ourselves before our brothers and sisters in Christ too.
I'll quote part of what Hunt says on page 39 of "Occult Invasion," the first page of his chapter titled, "What is the Occult?" "The word 'occult' comes from the Latin, 'occultus,' which means 'concealed' or 'hidden.' It involves mystic knowledge and magic powers received from the spirit world and dispensed for the benefit of devotees or directed destructively at enemies by those who have been initiated into its secrets. The masters of occult power are known as medicine men (or women), witch doctors, witches, psychics, priests, sorcerers, astrologers, gurus, yogis, shamans, mediums, seers, or healers.
Some of those involved with occult powers attribute them to a variety of deities, others to a 'Force' inherent within the universe with a 'dark' and 'light' side which humans can tap into. Still others claim they are simply using a normal power of the mind which can be cultivated in a special state of consciousness. There are others who attribute occult powers to the God of the Bible. ...many professedly Christian leaders are involved in the occult and are leading their churches into this error, as we shall see."
On pages 40, 41 of "Occult Invasion" Hunt briefly discusses Napoleon Hill, the author of the best-selling book "Think and Grow Rich" and other books. I was shocked many years ago when I learned in chapter 1 of "Seduction of Christianity," in a chapter titled "Success and Sorcery," that Hill made it clear that he had received the information and techniques contained in that book from what we could call spirit guides (demons). I'll quote several sentences from pages 16-21 of "Seduction" that deal with this topic:
"Most of the masters of business success/motivation and PMA [Positive Mental Attitude] techniques have been seduced into sorcery, and are seducing millions of other people as well. Most of the basic ideas and techniques behind self-improvement courses that literally permeate society today can be traced back to one man, Napoleon Hill. ... Napoleon Hill's books are offered at Christian bookstores across the country and recommended by numerous Christian leaders. ... Hill explains in some detail that he learned the mind-power techniques contained in his books from disembodied spirit entities. Demons masquerading as Ascended Masters used Hill to deceive the millions who have adopted the 'success' techniques they gave him. ... The 'Supreme Secret' they authorized Hill to 'reveal' to the world has been preserved in occult tradition for thousands of years...: 'Anything The Human Mind Can Believe, The Human Mind Can Achieve' [emphasis in original] (Napoleon Hill, 'Grow Rich with Peace of Mind' (Ballantine Books, 1967), p. 176). This seductive idea lies behind the Human Potential movement, which is another name for the New Age movement. ... The 'secret of the ages' is also called by Hill 'The Magic Power of Belief' [same reference and page number]. Its basic premise is that the human mind has mysterious inherent powers that are capable of creating one's own reality: 'Truly, deeply, believe you will have great wealth, and you will have it' [same reference and page number]. This is the sorcerer's counterfeit 'faith' [an occult faith] and is the basis for what the secular world calls PMA.... ...."
One of the primary points that Hunt makes in his books is that the power that makes these techniques work is from the devil, the occult power of the devil and his kingdom. There is a gigantic difference between tapping into occult powers and being an effective salesperson because you have a good personality, believe in the product, think positive (think in terms of making sales, not in terms of not making sales, etc.), and truly want to help the customer. And there is a super-gigantic difference between tapping into occult powers by occult faith (not Bible faith) for success, healing, etc. and living for God (the God of the Bible) in His truth, righteousness, and holiness, by grace through Bible faith (faith that is based on God and His Word and gives Him all the glory) and receiving all the success, healing, and every other blessing He has for us in this age (and especially in the eternal age to come) by grace through faith (Bible faith).
I'll quote a few sentences from pages 12, 13 of "Seduction of Christianity." "...most Christians are so uninformed about occultism that they wouldn't recognize it except in its most blatant forms. ... In the following pages we will document the sobering fact that not only liberal but conservatives as well are being seduced in overwhelming numbers. The extent to which antichristian and even occult beliefs and methodologies have been integrated into Christianity within the last few years is staggering, and this trend is accelerating at an alarming rate.
... One word that is often used to encompass all pagan/occult practices is 'sorcery.' [The meaning of the word "sorcery" in this book:] any attempt to manipulate reality (internal, external, past, present, or future) by various [supposed] mind-over-matter techniques that run the gamut from alchemy and astrology to positive/possibility thinking.
Ancient sorcery's mind-over-matter techniques often seem to work [yes, by the occult power of the kingdom of darkness] and are radically changing our world - from science and medicine to psychology and education. ...."
I'll quote a paragraph from page 113 of "Occult Invasion," "In every culture throughout human history shamanism has been based upon the belief that the spirit world could be manipulated by thoughts firmly held in the mind, by words repeatedly spoken, and by pictures formed in the imagination. The modern application of these ancient shamanistic beliefs is found in the Power of Positive Thinking, Positive Speaking, and visualization. All three of these occult techniques are practiced today in the arenas of education, psychology, business and within the church."
It is true, of course, that Christians must think, speak, and act in a "positive" way, as defined and required by the Word of God, but everything we do is supposed to be done with reference to God, that His will be done, by His grace, by His power, and for His glory. We are not (we had better not be) little gods using occult techniques (whether we consider them to be occult techniques or not) to try to bring things into alignment with our will. God knows our hearts, including our motives. We must (we have the privilege to) walk in line with God's Word and by the Holy Spirit, in His imputed and imparted righteousness, on a continuous basis, by grace through faith (faith in Him and in His Word and for His glory).
We are missing what Bible faith is all about if our faith is disconnected from God and His Word (if He is left out of the equation) and placed in ourselves, or in our faith, or in an occult "law of faith" that will work for anybody (Christian or not), or in an occult "law of confession" that will work for anybody, or in a law that says faith is a force we can use to move mountains, etc., or that since God created by faith, we (once we have become born-again Christians) can create by faith, etc. We will discuss all of these things in this paper.
These things have always been clear to me, and I have always taught these things and pointed them out when speaking with believers from the faith movement. (Many of my best friends, and students, have been involved in the faith movement. Some have been Rhema [Kenneth Hagin's Bible Training Center] graduates.) See my "A Paper on Faith" on my internet site (karlkempteachingministries.com). It isn't directly related to this paper, but I recommend reading my paper "Some Comments on Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince and a Discussion on the Topic of Righteousness, Holiness, and the Victory Over Sin."
I'm not the judge. For one thing, God is the only One who knows what we are believing and doing in our hearts. Some Christians may be saying some things wrong about faith (in a way that doesn't fully line up with what the Bible teaches) but in their hearts they are living in a way that glorifies God; they are making God, His will, His truth, and His righteousness and holiness top priority; they are looking to Him for all things and giving Him the glory for all things, etc. Anyway, it is very important that we bring what we believe into agreement with God's Word in every area (as required), and faith is a word of key importance in the New Testament.
We will continue this study in Part 2.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.