Similarities between the Word of Faith Movement and Christian Hedonism
Many of our readers will be aware that the Word of Faith movement has long been seen as a dangerous by many Bible-believing Christians. Word of Faith teachers urge people to exercise faith in arduous intense prayer, and by ‘having faith in’ (visualising) all their prayers for health, success and prosperity being granted by God.
The Word of Faith follower is taught to not speak about or focus on any of the negative things they may be experiencing: poverty, adversity, negative mental states or moods, disease, disability, oppression, etc. Instead, the person is urged to ‘stand on the promises of God’ and work the ‘spiritual laws’ —a complex system of do’s and don’ts in prayer, speech, thought, tithing, submission, obedience to leaders, etc. Any failure to have their prayers answered is then attributed to the fault of the follower, who is told he she did not have enough faith or failed to work all the spiritual laws fully.
There is another system of thought which has infiltrated its tentacles around the so-called evangelical world. It is ‘Christian Hedonism’ and it has been propagated by Revered Leader John Piper. [sarcasm]
Many of our readers may not have heard of Christian Hedonism but have nonetheless been affected by it. John Piper’s ideas of Christian Hedonism have spread into many so-called orthodox conservative churches: Reformed, Presbyterian (PCA), Southern Baptist, independent Baptist, etc.
Piper has been a publisher’s dream. He has written many books that your pastor may have read, and your pastor may be quoting Piper in his sermons. Piper is co-founder and Honoured Elder-in-Chief of CBMW (Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) — the organisation which has gained hegemony over so much of conservative Christendom that to question CBMW’s line on male headship is seen as equal to rejecting the Gospel.
In its technical details, the Word of Faith system is a lot more complicated and time consuming to adhere to than Piper’s Christian Hedonism system. But there are similarities between the two systems. Here are three I can think of:
1. Mind control: Analytical/biblical thought which might shine a spotlight on oppression is discouraged or prohibited. Instead, blame is place on victims of adversity and oppression.
2. Self-focus: Whether it is the supposedly unselfish pursuit of joy in glorifying God, or the pursuit of joy in prayers being answered for health, wealth and personal success, self-focus is an inevitable outcome of both systems.
3. Mystical escapism: Followers are encouraged to invest emotionally in future blessings from God. But the use of biblical common sense to address oppression in the here-and-now, is often frowned upon.
Perhaps you may be able to give examples or suggest more similarities between Piper’s Christian Hedonism and the Word of Faith Movement. Or maybe you would like to reflect on and share how either or both of these these sub-biblical movements have affected you.