A Different Gospel Detailed Book Summary

Title: A Different Gospel
Author: Dan R. McConnell

TLDR: “A Different Gospel” exposes the cultic origins of the Faith Movement, tracing its core teachings back to E.W. Kenyon and his immersion in New Thought metaphysics. It critiques Faith theology’s heretical doctrines, including deification and a spiritualized atonement, and warns against its dangerous practices of sensory denial and prosperity gospel.

Part 1: A Historical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement

Chapter 1: The True Father of the Modern Faith Movement

This chapter dives into the controversial issue of who is truly responsible for the teachings that form the foundation of the Faith Movement. While Kenneth Hagin is often touted as the “father” of this movement, McConnell argues that this title rightfully belongs to E.W. Kenyon, a lesser-known figure whose writings predate Hagin’s by over three decades.

The chapter begins by acknowledging Hagin’s undeniable influence within the Faith Movement. Prominent figures like Kenneth Copeland and Frederick Price freely acknowledge Hagin as their spiritual mentor. Despite this recognition, McConnell introduces the claims of Ruth Kenyon Houseworth, daughter of E.W. Kenyon, who contends that her father is the true originator of Faith teachings.

McConnell then presents a compelling case for plagiarism, demonstrating through numerous examples that Hagin directly copied extensive portions of Kenyon’s works, often verbatim, without proper attribution. These plagiarized passages cover core doctrines of the Faith Movement, further solidifying Kenyon’s position as the author of these teachings.

While acknowledging Hagin’s role in popularizing Kenyon’s theology, McConnell argues that leadership in a movement does not equate to authorship of its core ideas. Just as communism found its leadership in Lenin and Stalin, while its doctrines originated with Marx and Engels, the Faith movement similarly gained prominence under Hagin’s leadership, while its foundational principles were conceived by Kenyon.

McConnell concludes that E.W. Kenyon is the true father of the Faith Movement, having authored the teachings upon which it stands. The chapter effectively establishes Kenyon as the historical root from which the Faith Movement blossomed, setting the stage for the subsequent investigation into Kenyon’s own theological roots.

Chapter 2: The Cultic Origins of the Faith Movement

Having established Kenyon as the founder of the Faith Movement, McConnell shifts focus to Kenyon’s own theological background, exploring the possibility of cultic influences. The chapter begins by clarifying the meaning of “cultic,” differentiating between the sensational, sociological, and theological approaches to defining cults. McConnell argues that the theological approach, focusing on doctrinal discrepancies from biblical Christianity, is most relevant for Christians. He further introduces the “historical approach,” which examines a movement’s founder and any potential connection to pre-existing cults.

The chapter then explores the assumption that Kenyon’s teachings are merely a radicalized version of Pentecostalism. This is refuted by citing Kenyon’s own writings, where he expresses skepticism towards Pentecostalism and explicitly rejects its core doctrines like subsequence and tongues as the initial evidence of Spirit baptism.

McConnell argues that Kenyon’s emphasis on the believer’s mastery over life’s circumstances finds its roots not in Pentecostalism, but in the metaphysical cults, specifically Christian Science and New Thought metaphysics. This claim, referred to as the “Kenyon Connection,” proposes that Kenyon consciously incorporated cultic, metaphysical ideas into his theology.

The chapter presents firsthand evidence for this claim, citing testimonies from John Kennington and Ern Baxter, both close associates of Kenyon. Both men recall Kenyon admitting to being influenced by Christian Science, specifically the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.

In addition to these testimonies, McConnell provides circumstantial evidence for Kenyon’s involvement with cultic thought. The chapter explores Kenyon’s fascination with metaphysics, his extensive knowledge of cultic teachings, and his frequent disclaimers about any similarities between his teachings and the cults, often followed by pronouncements eerily reminiscent of metaphysical doctrines.

The chapter concludes by theorizing how and why Kenyon may have incorporated metaphysical elements into his theology. McConnell suggests that Kenyon, having witnessed the power of metaphysics to address people’s practical needs, sought to restore a supernatural dimension to a church that had largely forsaken it. In doing so, Kenyon drew from the only background in healing and prosperity that he possessed: metaphysics. This unintentional syncretism resulted in a hybrid theology, blending evangelical fundamentalism with New Thought concepts.

This chapter sets the stage for a more detailed investigation into Kenyon’s background and the influences that shaped his controversial theology.

Chapter 3: The Kenyon Connection

This chapter delves deeper into the circumstantial evidence for Kenyon’s connection to the metaphysical cults, focusing on his educational and religious background, and the religious environment of Emerson College, the institution he attended.

The chapter begins by outlining Kenyon’s early ministry, emphasizing his commitment to “faith works” and his dedication to establishing Bethel Bible Institute. It also highlights the controversial nature of Kenyon’s departure from Bethel in 1923, suggesting that this experience may have influenced his subsequent theological trajectory.

McConnell then focuses on the crucial period of Kenyon’s religious development, pointing to his time in Boston in the early 1890s. During this period, Kenyon attended services at a Unitarian church, a denomination considered heretical by evangelical standards for rejecting core doctrines like the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

McConnell argues that Kenyon’s enrollment at Emerson College of Oratory in 1892 is even more significant than his Unitarian experiment. The chapter meticulously analyzes the religious environment of Emerson College, revealing its founder, Charles Wesley Emerson, to be a metaphysical eclectic whose theology evolved from Congregationalism, through Universalism and Unitarianism, to Transcendentalism and New Thought, ultimately culminating in his conversion to Christian Science.

The chapter demonstrates that Charles Emerson’s metaphysical leanings were deeply embedded in the mission of the college itself. Emerson believed God to be the true founder of the institution, and its primary purpose was to teach students a “real gospel” grounded in New Thought metaphysics. Students were considered “missionaries” tasked with spreading this “real gospel” upon graduation.

Further evidence for the cultic nature of Emerson College is found in the presence of prominent New Thought figures like Ralph Waldo Trine, who served as both student and teacher during Kenyon’s time at the school. Trine went on to become one of the most articulate and influential proponents of New Thought, solidifying the connection between Emerson College and the metaphysical cults.

The chapter concludes by examining direct references to metaphysics in Kenyon’s writings. While Kenyon occasionally expressed hostility towards the metaphysical cults, his extensive knowledge of their teachings and practices, coupled with his frequent use of terminology and concepts borrowed from metaphysics, provides further evidence for their influence on his theology.

McConnell theorizes that Kenyon, having witnessed the power of metaphysics firsthand, incorporated its principles into his theology in an attempt to restore supernaturalism to a church that had largely abandoned it. This unintentional syncretism resulted in a hybrid theology, blending evangelicalism with New Thought metaphysics, forming the basis of the modern Faith Movement.

Chapter 4: The Role of Kenneth Hagin in the Faith Movement

This chapter shifts focus back to Kenneth Hagin, examining his crucial role in shaping the contemporary Faith Movement, while also providing further evidence for his dependence on E.W. Kenyon. The chapter begins by outlining the major events of Hagin’s early life and ministry, highlighting his dramatic deathbed conversion experience and his subsequent emphasis on divine healing and supernatural manifestations.

McConnell then explores Hagin’s self-proclaimed calling as a “prophet and teacher.” Hagin’s teaching ministry is based not only on his biblical knowledge, but also on a mystical “anointing” he claims to have received. Similarly, his prophetic authority rests on numerous visions and revelations, particularly his eight claimed visitations of Jesus.

The chapter details several of Hagin’s visions, focusing on his initial encounter with Jesus in 1950, where he was reportedly taken to heaven, hell, and a desolate wilderness area, receiving prophetic pronouncements about America’s future and his own ministry. Hagin’s visions consistently emphasize divine sanction for his teachings and threaten divine judgment on those who reject them.

McConnell then returns to the issue of Hagin’s plagiarism of Kenyon, arguing that Hagin’s claim to have received his theology directly from Jesus is contradicted by the obvious human sources of his teachings. In addition to his dependence on Kenyon, Hagin also plagiarized extensively from John A. MacMillan, author of The Authority of the Believer.

The chapter concludes by critiquing Hagin’s prophetic claims, arguing that even if these visions were genuine, their doctrinal content must still be evaluated against the Scriptures and historical orthodoxy. McConnell warns against accepting uncritically any teaching that claims divine sanction, especially when accompanied by threats of divine judgment.

This chapter provides further evidence for the cultic roots of Faith theology, demonstrating that Hagin’s teachings are not only dependent on Kenyon, but also incorporate his questionable metaphysical leanings. The chapter also critiques the dangers of unquestioning acceptance of teachings based on personal visions and prophetic pronouncements, especially when such pronouncements are used to coerce and control.

Chapter 5: The Faith Controversy and the Beginning of the Faith Denomination

This chapter delves into the controversy surrounding Faith theology, outlining its rapid growth under Hagin’s leadership and detailing the responses of prominent critics within the charismatic movement.

The chapter begins by highlighting the exponential growth of Hagin’s ministry in the late 1970s, attributing this expansion in part to the decline of the Shepherding-Discipleship movement. Hagin’s establishment of Rhema Bible Training Center further solidified his influence within the charismatic renewal, producing a new generation of pastors and evangelists committed to Faith teachings.

Despite its success, the Faith movement soon faced criticism for its extreme doctrines and practices. In 1979, Charles Farah published From the Pinnacle of the Temple, a book that characterized Faith theology as a “faith-formula” that had led to numerous tragedies. That same year, Gordon Fee published a series of articles, “Some Reflections on a Current Disease,” which directly challenged the Faith movement’s teachings on prosperity and healing.

The Faith controversy intensified in 1980 with the publication of several books, including Larry Parker’s We Let Our Son Die, which recounted the tragic death of his son Wesley after the Parkers decided to withhold insulin based on their belief that God had healed him through prayer. The controversy reached a climax when Farah delivered a paper at the Society for Pentecostal Studies, accusing Faith theology of being a “burgeoning heresy.”

In response to the growing criticism, the Assemblies of God issued an official statement on “The Believer and Positive Confession,” outlining its concerns about the excesses of the Faith movement. Jimmy Swaggart, once a proponent of Faith teachings, also published a series of articles and a booklet, Hyper-Faith: A New Gnosticism?, which condemned the Faith movement’s teachings and practices.

Despite the controversy, the Faith movement continued to grow, demonstrating many of the characteristics of a denomination. In 1979, Buddy Harrison founded the International Convention of Faith Churches and Ministers (ICFCM), which aimed to unite Faith churches and ministries.

The chapter concludes by analyzing the efforts of organizations like the “Network of Christian Ministries” to reconcile the Faith movement with other charismatic groups. While acknowledging the value of ecumenical dialogue, McConnell critiques the Network’s tendency to suppress public debate about doctrine and warns against a unity that comes at the expense of biblical truth.

This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the controversies surrounding Faith theology, highlighting its rapid growth, the responses of its critics, and the emergence of a Faith denomination. It also analyzes the attempts to reconcile the Faith movement with other charismatic groups, raising concerns about a unity that compromises biblical truth.

Part 2: A Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement

Chapter 6: The Doctrine of Revelation Knowledge: Super Christians and the New Gnosticism

This chapter marks the beginning of McConnell’s detailed theological critique of the Faith Movement, focusing on its doctrine of “Revelation Knowledge.” This doctrine, originated by Kenyon and propagated by Hagin, stands as the epistemological foundation of Faith theology, dictating how one gains knowledge of God and the spiritual realm.

The chapter begins by defining “Revelation Knowledge” as a supernatural knowledge of God, revealed in the Bible, primarily in Paul’s epistles, that enables believers to transcend the limitations of “Sense Knowledge,” which is knowledge acquired through the five physical senses.

McConnell argues that this radical distinction between Revelation Knowledge and Sense Knowledge reflects a cultic dualism, echoing the beliefs of the metaphysical cults. The chapter then outlines five specific parallels between Kenyon’s epistemology and that of the metaphysical cults:

  1. Dualism: Both systems view reality as divided into two opposing realms: the spiritual and the physical.
  2. Sensory Denial: Both systems teach that to possess spiritual knowledge requires a rejection of sensory knowledge.
  3. Perfect Knowledge: Both systems claim that perfect knowledge of God is attainable in this life.
  4. Transcendence: Both systems teach that spiritual knowledge enables one to transcend physical limitations.
  5. Classification: Both systems create classes of Christians, distinguishing between those who possess spiritual knowledge and those who do not.

McConnell analyzes each of these parallels, citing examples from Kenyon’s writings and comparing them to the teachings of metaphysical proponents like Phineas Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, and Ralph Waldo Trine. The chapter then critiques the doctrine of Revelation Knowledge from a biblical perspective, arguing that it is fundamentally gnostic in nature. McConnell points to three gnostic elements in this doctrine:

  1. Dualism: Revelation Knowledge embodies the gnostic belief that knowledge of God is radically distinct from and exclusive of sensory knowledge.
  2. Antirationalism: Revelation Knowledge rejects reason and intellectual inquiry, asserting that spiritual knowledge transcends rational thought.
  3. Classification: Revelation Knowledge creates classes of Christians, elevating those who possess this knowledge to a higher spiritual status.

McConnell systematically refutes each of these gnostic elements, citing biblical passages that affirm the validity of sensory experience, the importance of reason and intellect, and the equality of all believers in Christ. He argues that biblical revelation is not exclusively spiritual, but also involves the physical world, as demonstrated by the incarnation of Christ. He further contends that perfect knowledge of God is not attainable in this life, citing Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 about the limitations of human knowledge.

The chapter concludes by exposing the dangers of the grandiose claims made for Revelation Knowledge. McConnell argues that the belief in “super Christians” possessing superior spiritual knowledge has led to a form of charismatic humanism that exalts man over God and fuels personality cults.

This chapter effectively deconstructs the Faith Movement’s doctrine of Revelation Knowledge, revealing its dependence on cultic, metaphysical ideas and exposing its heretical gnostic tendencies.

Chapter 7: The Doctrine of Identification: The Born-Again Jesus and the Atonement of the Devil

This chapter focuses on the Faith Movement’s doctrine of “Identification,” a concept that seeks to explain the believer’s union with Christ and his redemptive work. While drawing on the broader Christian concept of “identification with Christ,” the Faith theology’s version, originating with Kenyon, introduces radical ideas about man, Christ, redemption, and deification.

The chapter begins by outlining the cultic nature of the doctrine of Identification, emphasizing its metaphysical underpinnings. McConnell first explores Kenyon’s understanding of man, highlighting his teaching that humans are inherently spirit beings who can partake of either God’s nature or Satan’s nature. This view, echoing the pantheistic beliefs of the metaphysical cults, denies the uniqueness of human nature and claims that man is fundamentally divine.

McConnell then analyzes Kenyon’s Christology, specifically his concept of “spiritual death.” Kenyon taught that Jesus died two deaths on the cross: a physical death and a spiritual death. The spiritual death, supposedly taking place in hell, involved Jesus taking on Satan’s nature and becoming a “new satanic creation.” This spiritual atonement in hell, according to Kenyon, was necessary because sin and sickness are ultimately spiritual problems that cannot be addressed by Christ’s physical death.

The chapter then examines Kenyon’s two-sided understanding of Identification: the “legal side” and the “vital side.” The legal side emphasizes Christ’s complete union with humanity in its fallen, demoniacal state, fulfilling God’s justice towards Satan, who supposedly owns creation by “legal right” due to Adam’s “High Treason.” The vital side, on the other hand, focuses on the believer’s union with Christ, whereby one appropriates the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work and is transformed into an “incarnation of God.”

McConnell critiques Kenyon’s doctrine of Identification from a biblical perspective, exposing its heretical nature. He argues that:

  1. Man is an integrated being: The Bible depicts man as a unified whole of spirit, soul, and body, not merely a spirit residing in a body.
  2. The Fall did not make man satanic: While damaging the image of God, Adam’s sin did not transform human nature into a satanic creation.
  3. Salvation is not deification: The Bible teaches that salvation restores man to the image of God, not that it transforms him into a god.
  4. Atonement is God-ward: Christ’s death was a sacrifice to God, not to Satan.

The chapter systematically refutes the claims of the Faith theology regarding the nature of man, the Fall, and the atonement. McConnell emphasizes the biblical teaching that Christ’s death on the cross, not his spiritual suffering in hell, is the basis of man’s redemption. He also exposes the cultic nature of the Faith theology’s belief in deification, demonstrating its origins in New Thought metaphysics.

This chapter provides a comprehensive critique of the Faith Movement’s doctrine of Identification, revealing its dependence on cultic ideas and exposing its heretical distortion of biblical teachings about man, Christ, and redemption.

Chapter 8: The Doctrine of Faith: Faith in God versus Faith in Faith

This chapter examines the Faith Movement’s understanding of “faith,” a concept that is central to its identity and message. McConnell argues that while the Faith theology emphasizes the importance of faith, its definition of faith is flawed, reflecting its cultic origins and revealing a distorted view of God.

The chapter begins by outlining the cultic nature of the Faith Movement’s doctrine of faith, focusing on its metaphysical underpinnings. McConnell explores three key aspects of this doctrine:

  1. Faith as a Formula: The Faith theology views faith as a set of spiritual laws and formulas that work automatically for anyone who applies them correctly. This view, echoing the deistic beliefs of the metaphysical cults, reduces God to an impersonal force controlled by spiritual laws.
  2. Faith as Positive Confession: The Faith movement emphasizes the power of positive confession, claiming that spoken words have the power to create reality. This teaching, drawing on the metaphysical concepts of “the drawing power of the mind” and “the creative power of thought,” reduces faith to a technique for manipulating spiritual forces.
  3. Faith as Creative Power: The Faith theology suggests that believers possess “creative faith,” enabling them to shape their own reality through spoken words. This concept, also rooted in New Thought metaphysics, denigrates God’s role as Creator and exalts man to the status of a creator.

McConnell meticulously analyzes each of these aspects, citing numerous examples from Kenyon’s and Hagin’s writings and comparing them to the teachings of metaphysical proponents like Ralph Waldo Trine, Charles Fillmore, and H. Emilie Cady. He demonstrates that the Faith theology’s understanding of faith, while utilizing biblical terminology, is fundamentally grounded in cultic, metaphysical ideas.

The chapter then critiques the Faith movement’s doctrine of faith from a biblical perspective, arguing that it distorts the true nature of faith and reveals a flawed view of God. McConnell emphasizes the following points:

  1. God’s Sovereignty: The Faith theology’s belief in spiritual laws that control even God undermines his sovereignty and reduces him to a slave of these laws.
  2. God’s Personality: By claiming that God’s will is indistinguishable from these impersonal spiritual laws, the Faith theology depersonalizes God, transforming him into an impersonal force.
  3. The Name of Jesus: The Faith movement’s use of Jesus’ name as a formula for manipulating God violates the third commandment and reduces the divine Name to a magical incantation.
  4. Man’s Creativity: The concept of “creative faith” denies God’s exclusive role as Creator and exalts man to a level of creative power never granted in Scripture.
  5. God’s Word: The Faith theology distorts the relationship between God and his Word, suggesting that the Word is an independent force that controls God, rather than an expression of his will and power.
  6. Theocentricity: The Faith movement’s concept of “the God-Kind of Faith” is based on a misinterpretation of Scripture and reflects a man-centered, rather than God-centered, view of faith.

McConnell systematically refutes the Faith movement’s claims about faith, demonstrating their incompatibility with biblical teaching and exposing their cultic origins. He argues that true faith is not a formula for manipulating God, but a trusting dependence on his person and promises, expressed through obedience and love.

This chapter provides a compelling critique of the Faith movement’s doctrine of faith, revealing its dependence on cultic ideas and its distortion of biblical truth. It demonstrates that the Faith theology ultimately advocates faith in a god other than the God of the Bible, a god whose actions are dictated by impersonal spiritual laws and manipulated by human formulas.

Chapter 9: The Doctrine of Healing: Sickness, Symptoms, and Satan

This chapter analyzes the Faith Movement’s doctrine of healing, a core tenet of Faith theology and a major source of both its appeal and controversy. While acknowledging the biblical basis for divine healing, McConnell argues that the Faith movement’s approach to healing is rooted in cultic ideas, leading to dangerous practices and distorted views of God, sickness, and suffering.

The chapter begins by acknowledging the prevalence of healing testimonies within the Faith Movement, but cautions against accepting uncritically claims based solely on personal experience. McConnell reiterates his earlier point that healing and miracles do not prove the truth of a doctrine and that healings can come from more than one source.

McConnell then outlines the cultic nature of the Faith Movement’s doctrine of healing, exploring its metaphysical underpinnings. He analyzes four key aspects of this doctrine:

  1. Disease is Spiritual: The Faith theology teaches that all diseases are ultimately spiritual in origin, physical symptoms being merely effects of a spiritual cause. This view, reflecting the metaphysical belief that reality is fundamentally spiritual, denies the validity of medical science and attributes sickness to demonic activity or spiritual imbalance.
  2. Sickness is Abnormal: The Faith movement views sickness as an unnatural condition for believers, claiming that God always wants to heal and that sickness is a sign of unbelief or sin. This belief places undue pressure on believers to maintain perfect health and fosters guilt and shame when they experience illness.
  3. Negative Confession Produces Sickness: The Faith theology teaches that negative confessions, whether verbal or mental, can attract sickness and disease. This belief creates an environment of fear and anxiety, discouraging believers from expressing their anxieties or seeking support when they are ill.
  4. Denial of Symptoms: The Faith movement encourages believers to deny physical symptoms, viewing them as deceptive illusions orchestrated by Satan to undermine their faith. This practice, rooted in the metaphysical denial of sensory reality, can lead to tragic consequences, as believers ignore potentially life-threatening symptoms.

McConnell meticulously analyzes each of these aspects, citing numerous examples from Kenyon’s and Hagin’s writings and comparing them to the teachings of metaphysical proponents like P.P. Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, and Ralph Waldo Trine. He demonstrates that the Faith movement’s doctrine of healing, while utilizing biblical terminology, is fundamentally based on cultic, metaphysical ideas.

The chapter then critiques the Faith movement’s doctrine of healing from a biblical perspective, arguing that it distorts the true nature of healing and fails to acknowledge the reality of human suffering. McConnell emphasizes the following points:

  1. God’s Sovereignty in Healing: God does not always heal, and any doctrine that claims otherwise denies his sovereignty and reduces him to a slave of human formulas.
  2. The Reality of Suffering: The Bible teaches that believers will experience suffering in this life, including physical suffering.
  3. The Not Yet of Redemption: The complete redemption of our bodies, including freedom from sickness and disease, will not occur until the return of Christ.

McConnell supports his critique by citing biblical passages that affirm the reality of suffering for believers, the limitations of healing in this life, and the sovereign nature of God’s healing activity. He also examines the experiences of Paul and Job, demonstrating that even the most faithful believers endured physical suffering and sickness.

The chapter concludes by exposing the dangers of the Faith movement’s cultic practices related to healing, particularly the practice of denying physical symptoms and refusing medical treatment. McConnell warns that these practices, rooted in metaphysical denial of reality, can have tragic consequences, especially for those with chronic or terminal illnesses. He also criticizes the Faith movement’s lack of pastoral care for those who are ill, highlighting the tendency to isolate and ostracize believers who experience sickness.

This chapter provides a comprehensive and insightful critique of the Faith movement’s doctrine of healing, exposing its dependence on cultic ideas and its distortion of biblical truth. It demonstrates that the Faith theology promotes dangerous practices and fosters a distorted view of sickness and suffering, ultimately denying the sovereignty of God and the reality of human experience.

Chapter 10: The Doctrine of Prosperity: Success and the Upwardly Mobile Christian

This chapter analyzes the Faith Movement’s doctrine of prosperity, a teaching that has become increasingly central to its message and appeal. While acknowledging the biblical promise of God’s provision for believers, McConnell argues that the Faith movement’s approach to prosperity is rooted in cultic ideas, leading to a distorted view of God, wealth, and the Christian life.

The chapter begins by outlining the historical development of prosperity teachings within the charismatic movement, differentiating between the “egocentric” and “cosmic” varieties. While egocentric teachings focus on material blessings for those who support the evangelist’s ministry, cosmic teachings promise prosperity to those who understand and apply the spiritual laws governing wealth. McConnell argues that the Faith movement generally advocates a cosmic view of prosperity, drawing heavily on the teachings of the metaphysical cults.

The chapter then explores the cultic nature of the Faith movement’s doctrine of prosperity, analyzing its metaphysical underpinnings. McConnell focuses on two key aspects of this doctrine:

  1. Prosperity as Spiritual Law: The Faith theology teaches that prosperity is governed by impersonal spiritual laws that operate automatically for anyone who applies them correctly, regardless of their spiritual condition. This view, echoing the deistic beliefs of the metaphysical cults, reduces God to a force controlled by spiritual formulas and eliminates the need for personal relationship with him.
  2. Prosperity as Positive Confession: The Faith movement emphasizes the power of positive confession to attract wealth and abundance. This teaching, rooted in the metaphysical concept of “the drawing power of the mind,” reduces faith to a technique for manipulating spiritual forces and ignores the biblical emphasis on contentment and stewardship.

McConnell provides numerous examples from Kenyon’s, Hagin’s, and Copeland’s writings, demonstrating their dependence on metaphysical concepts and their use of prosperity formulas like “the hundredfold return.” He also compares these teachings to the writings of New Thought proponents like Charles Fillmore and Ralph Waldo Trine, highlighting the striking parallels between their views on prosperity.

The chapter then critiques the Faith movement’s doctrine of prosperity from a biblical perspective, arguing that it distorts the true nature of God’s provision and promotes a materialistic, self-centered approach to the Christian life. McConnell emphasizes the following points:

  1. God’s Provision for Needs: The Bible promises that God will provide for the legitimate needs of believers, not their every desire or whim.
  2. Contentment and Stewardship: The New Testament emphasizes contentment with basic provisions and responsible stewardship of resources, not the pursuit of wealth and abundance.
  3. The Cross and Self-Denial: The doctrine of prosperity contradicts the call to self-denial and discipleship, promoting a worldly focus on material possessions.
  4. God’s Concern for the Poor: The Faith movement’s teaching on prosperity ignores the biblical emphasis on caring for the poor and marginalized, suggesting that poverty is a sign of spiritual failure.

McConnell supports his critique by citing numerous biblical passages that warn against materialism, greed, and the pursuit of wealth, while emphasizing God’s provision for the poor and his call to sacrificial living. He also examines the life and ministry of Paul, demonstrating that true prosperity is not measured by material possessions, but by spiritual fruitfulness and faithfulness to God’s calling.

The chapter concludes by highlighting the dangers of the Faith movement’s doctrine of prosperity, warning that it fosters greed, self-indulgence, and a distorted view of the Christian life. McConnell argues that this teaching, rooted in cultic ideas and fueled by American materialism, ultimately leads believers away from the true source of prosperity: God himself.

Chapter 11: Summary and Conclusion

This final chapter summarizes the book’s central arguments, providing a concise overview of its historical and theological analysis of the Faith movement. McConnell restates his conviction that Faith theology constitutes a “different gospel,” a claim he supports by citing the movement’s cultic historical origins, its heretical doctrines, and its dangerous practices.

The chapter begins by summarizing the historical findings of the book. McConnell reiterates his central claim that the Faith movement is not a product of Pentecostalism, but rather draws its core teachings from E.W. Kenyon, whose theology was heavily influenced by the metaphysical cults of New Thought and Christian Science. He highlights the historical connection between Kenyon and figures like Charles Emerson and Ralph Waldo Trine, demonstrating the clear influence of metaphysical thought on his theology.

McConnell then summarizes his theological critique of the Faith movement, outlining the four central heresies identified in his analysis:

  1. Deism: The Faith theology’s belief in impersonal spiritual laws that control God undermines his sovereignty and reduces him to a force manipulated by human formulas.
  2. Demonic Christology: Kenyon’s teaching that Jesus took on Satan’s nature and became a “new satanic creation” distorts the biblical understanding of the atonement and Christ’s sinless nature.
  3. Gnostic Revelation: The Faith movement’s emphasis on “Revelation Knowledge” as a superior form of knowledge acquired through sensory denial promotes a gnostic view of revelation and creates classes of Christians.
  4. Metaphysical Salvation: The Faith theology’s belief in deification, whereby believers are transformed into gods, and its spiritualization of the atonement, placing it in hell rather than on the cross, contradict biblical teachings about salvation and the nature of Christ’s redemptive work.

McConnell argues that these heretical doctrines, rooted in Kenyon’s syncretism of evangelicalism and New Thought metaphysics, have led to dangerous practices within the Faith movement, including:

  1. PMA/Positive Confession: The use of mental techniques and spoken words to manipulate spiritual forces reduces faith to a magical formula and ignores the biblical emphasis on God’s sovereignty and the importance of obedience.
  2. Sensory Denial: The practice of denying physical symptoms, especially those of illness, can have tragic consequences, as believers ignore potentially life-threatening conditions.
  3. Rejection of Medical Science: The Faith movement’s implicit rejection of medical care, while not explicitly forbidding it, discourages believers from seeking medical treatment and fosters guilt when they do.
  4. Prosperity: The pursuit of wealth and abundance as a sign of God’s favor promotes materialism, greed, and a distorted view of the Christian life.

McConnell concludes by issuing three appeals:

  1. To the Faith movement, he calls for a doctrinal reformation, urging its leaders and followers to recognize the cultic origins of their beliefs and to reconstruct their theology on a more biblical foundation.
  2. To the independent charismatic movement, he challenges the quest for unity that compromises biblical truth, emphasizing the need to address the doctrinal issues at stake in the Faith controversy.
  3. To the Pentecostal and Evangelical movements, he warns against the infiltration of Faith teachings, urging discernment and a renewed commitment to biblical orthodoxy.

The chapter ends with a sobering observation: Even if the Faith controversy were resolved, the independent charismatic movement would likely remain vulnerable to new waves of aberrant teachings unless it embraced a more biblically sound doctrine of revelation. McConnell argues that the movement’s tendency to prioritize personal experience and prophetic pronouncements over the Scriptures has made it susceptible to theological extremes and cultic influences. He calls for a renewed commitment to the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura, recognizing the Bible as the sole infallible rule of faith and practice.

This concluding chapter effectively summarizes the book’s central arguments, providing a compelling case for the cultic origins and heretical nature of Faith theology. It also offers a prophetic warning to the charismatic movement, urging a renewed commitment to biblical orthodoxy and a sound doctrine of revelation to prevent further theological drift and spiritual harm.

Afterword: The Faith Movement Today

In this afterword, written five years after the initial publication of A Different Gospel, McConnell reflects on the impact of his book and reaffirms its central arguments based on his subsequent experiences as a pastor and missionary.

He begins by sharing heartbreaking stories of individuals and families whose lives have been devastated by Faith theology, highlighting the lasting consequences of its dangerous practices. He criticizes the Faith movement’s tendency to blame its victims, accusing them of lacking faith or having hidden sins. He decries the practice of “blacklisting” those who question Faith teachings or experience its failures, leaving them isolated and spiritually wounded.

McConnell then addresses claims that the Faith movement has moderated its teachings and practices. Based on his missionary work outside of America, he argues that this moderation is largely superficial, as Faith literature continues to be translated and distributed worldwide in its original form, spreading the same divisive doctrines and practices that fueled the Faith controversy in America.

He details the negative impact of Faith theology on churches around the world, particularly in developing countries where its prosperity promises exploit the economic vulnerabilities of the poor. He describes the “placebo effect” of Faith theology, where initial enthusiasm gives way to disillusionment and spiritual cynicism as its promises fail to materialize. He cites the experience of Latvian pastors struggling to minister to those who have been disillusioned by Faith teachings, their faith in Western Christianity shattered by the movement’s failures.

While acknowledging the positive contributions of some Faith missionaries, McConnell maintains that the price tag of its successes in divided churches and spiritual drop-outs is too high. He criticizes the charismatic renewal’s tendency to downplay the harmful effects of Faith theology and to silence those who speak out against it.

He then recounts his own experiences with the charismatic press, revealing their reluctance to provide a platform for critiques of Faith theology. He describes their attempts to censor advertising for A Different Gospel and their selective use of sources, prioritizing those who support Faith teachings while ignoring its critics. He criticizes the charismatic media’s pursuit of “spiritual correctness,” comparing it to the secular media’s obsession with political correctness.

McConnell analyzes William DeArteaga’s Quenching the Spirit, acknowledging its value as a critique of cessationist theology but rejecting its defense of Faith theology. He details the points of agreement and disagreement with DeArteaga, highlighting the latter’s tendency to resort to the same tactics used by Dave Hunt, attacking those who criticize Faith theology as “Pharisees” and suggesting that they are guilty of the unforgiveable sin.

McConnell argues that DeArteaga’s faith-idealism, while attempting to offer a balanced view of the spiritual and physical realms, ultimately leads to the same sensory denial practiced by the metaphysical cults. He also criticizes DeArteaga’s hyper-realized eschatology, which minimizes the reality of suffering in this life and claims a level of spiritual authority and power not yet granted to believers.

He concludes by defending his polemical approach to the Faith movement, arguing that such a stance is warranted when lives are at stake. He reiterates his call for a doctrinal reformation within the Faith movement, urging its leaders to acknowledge the cultic origins of their beliefs and to address the destructive consequences of their teachings.

This afterword provides a powerful and poignant update on the Faith movement, revealing its continued influence and the ongoing need for critical evaluation. It also offers a sobering reflection on the state of the charismatic movement, highlighting the dangers of spiritual elitism, the suppression of dissent, and the uncritical acceptance of teachings that promise more than they deliver.

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